The New York Yankees have had their fair share of ups and downs this season, notably after the All-Star break when adversity hit. Dealing with injuries and inconsistencies across the board, everything has been mounting toward this moment, securing the first seed in the AL East.
The Yankees swept the Pittsburgh Pirates and Boston Red Sox last week before taking on a tough Toronto Blue Jays team that is also destined for a postseason appearance.
Toronto currently leads the American League Wild Card race, with the Tampa Bay Rays 1.5 games behind but still qualifying. However, the Yankees have been so dominant this season they still feature an 8.5-game lead in the division, locking it down with just eight games remaining.
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The Yankees know this is just the beginning:
The Yankees aren’t prepared to take their foot off the gas, as they must head into the playoffs with plenty of momentum. Having won eight of their last nine games, they’re clearly feeling good, and the team is gradually getting healthier, expecting to get back utilityman DJ LeMahieu against the Baltimore Orioles later this week.
Before the team began celebrating on Tuesday night, manager Aaron Boone had a few inspirational words, commending their effort and work ethic throughout the season.
“Hell of an effort today. You guys were the best team in the best division this year. We took everyone’s punches. We had to fight like hell for it. Now we get that opportunity to go on and realize our goal of being the champion. This deserves to be celebrated. This is a hell of a division. As competitive as it’s been with every team you’ve got to beat, and I just want to give the belt out — (there were) a number of guys that could get it. I know you want to go (celebrate). Jamo!”
The Yankees rode a solid pitching performance from Jamison Taillon to a win on Tuesday, giving up two earned runs over 7.1 innings, tossing just 94 pitches. This allowed the Yankees to keep their bullpen even more healthy and well-rested. Lou Trivino closed out the game, tossing 1.2 innings in just 17 pitches.
While star slugger Aaron Judge has still yet to tie Roger Marris with his 61st homer, the Yankees are focused on their team accomplishments, which is the most important metric of all.
“It wasn’t easy,” he added. “We all know that. Everyone in that room knows that. We took everyone’s punches. We had some low moments. Tonight is to be celebrated. It’s not easy going through the American League East and surviving, especially when there are other teams in the division like we’re playing right now. I think we all understand that this is step one and we want to win a championship. That’s our goal. But tonight deserves to be celebrated, especially of all the things you face in the course of the season, especially the adverse times. Tonight is a night now to pause and appreciate one another.”