Sat, Sep 21, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Yankees win 9-1 to clinch AL East title

‘UPS AND DOWNS’:The celebrations afterward were relatively sedate, as the club with the most players on the injured list looked to avoid any further bizarre mishaps

AP, NEW YORK

The New York Yankees’ Didi Gregorius, left, and Cameron Maybin celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium in New York on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

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.

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