Yankees fans broke out in a raucous roar in the 7th inning, momentarily startling Alex Rodriguez. The slugger stepped out of the batter’s box and saw the new on the center field scoreboard: Baltimore had lost; New York was the American League East champion.
A couple of innings later, the Yankees finished off a 14-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox for their 13th division title in 17 years after a thrilling back-and-forth race for the crown with the Orioles.
”This year we had to fight, scratch and claw,” Nick Swisher declared.
Covered in bubbly and wearing his new American League East champions’ hat, Derek Jeter sounded almost relieved.
”This was difficult. Come into the last day of the season, no-one knows what’s going on. We’ve been taking it one day at a time for quite some time,” Jeter expounded. ”It feels great.”
With the new playoff format, the Yankees’ next move is to wait.
Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each hit a couple of homers. Cano went 4 for 4 and tied a job high with 6 RBIs as N.Y (95-67) finished two games before Orioles and secured home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs.
”To have the best record and not know where you’re going is strange,” manager Joe Girardi announced.
In front of fans poised to party from the 1st pitch on the final night of the regular season, the Yankees completed a 3-game sweep of the last-place Red Sox to win their 2nd consecutive division crown. Football scores
When Freddy Garcia struck out Ivan De Jesus looking to end it, 3rd-string catcher Francisco Cervelli pumped his fist and his squad hugged and slapped fives on the field. They put on their just printed champ shirts and hats while fans praised them with an enthusiastic ovation as ”New York, New York,” blared over the loudspeakers.
Getting to the postseason, though, was not easy.
New York led the division by 10 games on July 18 but the Orioles caught up on Sept. 4 and were tied with the New York Yankees after 10 different days in September. Many players credit Girardi with keeping the clubhouse calm in that stretch.
”He’s very even-keeled,” Granderson expounded. ”You never see him get too excited or down.”
The New York Yankees rode the long ball all season, and the 4 homers in the finale set a franchise record at 245.
Granderson hit his career-best 42nd homer in the 2nd, a 3-run shot off Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-7), making his 1st start since Sept. 19. Cano then connected in the 3rd for a 5-1 lead. One batter later Matsuzaka was finished, most likely ending his 6-year career with Boston.
Cano hit his 33rd homer in the 5th, following Rodriguez’s double. It was A-Rod’s 1st extra-base hit since Sept. 14.
Cano has been on quite a tear, hitting .615 (24 for 39) in a stretch of 9 straight multihit games that lifted his average to .313.
”It’s a great feeling,” Cano said. ”It just came up at the right time.”
Granderson matched his teammate with a solo shot to right-center leading off the 7th for a 10-2 lead.