Aroldis Chapman got Albert Pujols to swing over a slider in the dirt, and the New York Yankees jogged to the infield to exchange handshakes and hugs after clinching their first American League East title since 2012.
However, there were no wild celebrations, not this year.
Hours after the startling news that pitcher Domingo German was placed on administrative leave under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, the homer-happy Yankees on Thursday night routed the Los Angeles Angels 9-1 to wrap up first place and breeze to their 100th win.
D.J. LeMahieu hit a go-ahead, three-run homer for yet another big moment in his first year with New York and old mainstay Brett Gardner homered and had three RBIs.
Players decided that it was not a night for dog piles, given how many already have gotten hurt, some in bizarre mishaps.
“We’re just trying to avoid injuries,” LeMahieu said.
A day after wasting a chance to clinch first place, the Yankees went ahead when LeMahieu went deep in the second inning.
Gardner, among just two holdovers from their last World Series championship team in 2009, added a solo shot in the fourth and then hit a two-run double in the sixth.
Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier homered for good measure in the eighth.
“It’s been a long season, a lot of ups and downs. We’re going to celebrate and enjoy tonight, but we got a lot more baseball to play,” slugger Aaron Judge said.
Despite putting 30 players on the injured list this year, New York (100-54) made Aaron Boone the first manager to win 100 games in each of his first two major league seasons.
The Yankees open the playoffs on Oct. 4, likely against Minnesota, who lead the AL Central, or the wild-card winner.
German’s status for the post-season is uncertain after a breakout season. He is the Yankees’ top-winning pitcher at 18-4.
Masahiro Tanaka (11-8), in line to start the playoff opener, allowed Kole Calhoun’s homer leading off the fourth. The Angels had just four hits in seven innings off Tanaka, who struck out six and walked one.
New York’s 19th AL East title was their first following a run of 13 in 17 years that started in Derek Jeter’s rookie season.
The Yankees, led by Judge, Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres, will be making their 21st post-season appearance in 25 years and 55th overall — 22 more than any other team. They will head into next month following their 21st 100-win season, their first in back-to-back years since 2002 to 2004.
New York moved into sole possession of the lead for good on June 15 with the start of an eight-game winning streak, beginning a spurt of 13 victories in 14 games that ended the month.
The Yankees led by 6-1/2 games at the All-Star Game, won seven of their first nine after the break and have led by seven to 11-1/2 games since.
They have achieved their success despite the most players on the injured list for any big league team since at least 2004.
After Wednesday’s 3-2 loss, the Yankees waited in their clubhouse for three hours until just before 1am, hoping second-place Tampa Bay would lose at Los Angeles and ensure the division title for New York, but the Rays rallied in the ninth and defeated the Dodgers in 11 innings.
Protective plastic remained overnight wrapping the six large-screen TVs in the Yankees clubhouse, a sign that the bubbly celebration was not too far off. There was plenty of spraying — but nonvintage Laurent Perrier Brut. The good stuff is saved for late next month.
LeMahieu’s homer off Andrew Heaney (4-6), which followed a rare infield hit by slow-legged catcher Austin Romine with two outs, landed about three rows over the scoreboard in right-center, giving him career bests of 25 homers and 97 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees.
Gardner also set career highs for homers (26) and RBIs (69), while New York extended their team record with 292 long balls, one shy of major league-leading Minnesota.
In other results, it was:
‧ Braves 5, Phillies 4
‧ Cardinals 5, Cubs 4, 10 innings
‧ Brewers 5, Padres 1
‧ Twins 8, Royals 5
‧ Indians 7, Tigers 0
‧ Red Sox 5, Giants 4
‧ Mariners 6, Pirates 5, 11 innings
‧ Blue Jays 8, Orioles 4
STANDINGS: The Uni-President Lions’ victory pushed the CTBC Brothers to first place after they won their third straight game, beating the Fubon Guardians 6-3 The big bats of the Uni-President Lions were on fire in the CPBL yesterday as they crushed the Rakuten Monkeys 21-5 in Taoyuan, with outfielder Lin An-ko driving in seven runs on five hits and two homers. The result enabled the CTBC Brothers to take the No. 1 spot after they beat the Fubon Guardians 6-3. It was a highlight reel for the Taiwanese-Argentinian star Lin, who drilled two homers amid a heated home-run race between himself, now on 16 for the season, and Lions teammate Su Chih-chieh, who is on 18. Lin performed outstandingly, collecting five hits at six at-bats to drive
Hong Kong media reported that police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool team jersey who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion that he was inciting independence. In-Media reported that the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted: “Long live Liverpool.” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him. The man told In-Media that police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence, which now is a punishable crime. He said that he has been a fan of the English soccer
WOLFSBURG BEATEN: Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski scored from a penalty, his 34th league goal this season, finishing as the top Bundesliga scorer for the fifth time Werder Bremen gave themselves hope of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga by thrashing Cologne 6-1 to grab a playoff place on the last day of the season, while champions Bayern Munich routed VfL Wolfsburg before lifting the trophy on Saturday. Japan striker Yuya Osako scored twice as Bremen stole the lifeline of the relegation/promotion playoff place from Fortuna Duesseldorf, who lost 3-0 against Union Berlin and were relegated with SC Paderborn, finishing one point behind Bremen. “We put in a great performance under pressure, but we are aware that we haven’t achieved anything — in the relegation playoff, the emotions will be
Alexis Lafreniere was supposed to walk on stage on Friday night in Montreal as the top pick in the NHL draft. After the COVID-19 pandemic paused the hockey season and postponed that possibility, Lafreniere was supposed to find out Friday night where he would be going when the league held its draft lottery. Instead, he must wait a little bit longer. Chaos reigned at the NHL draft lottery, with the No. 1 pick still up for grabs in a second lottery drawing among the eight teams that lose in the qualifying round of the playoffs — if play resumes. “We all knew