The New York Yankees may have won their 11th American League east divisional crown since 1995 but as the players celebrated their Major League leading 100th regular season win in the clubhouse, after sweeping the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium Sunday, they know there is more work to be done.
“It’s nice to get back and we are ready and need 11 more,” said Johnny Damon as the Yankees christened their new clubhouse with what they hope is the first of three more celebrations and a 27th world championships.” Last year the Yankees missed their first post season in 13 years under manager Joe Girardi who also wears number 27 on the back of his uniform.
In the middle of the champagne celebration was Nick Swisher, a key acquisition that General Manger Brian Cashman made during the off-season, “It’s nice to come here and do what we were capable of doing,” said Swisher who was mobbed by his teammates, including pitcher Mariano Rivera who got the last out and recorded his 44th save in the Yankees 4-2 clincher over the Red Sox.
The Yankees, who took control over first place the Al East On July 21st, have also secured home field advantage in the playoffs. They may also see Boston again in the American League Championship Series. If Detroit does not lose their slim division lead to Minnesota, New York would open the first round of the ALDS against the Tigers.
The Red Sox, on the verge of clinching the AL wild card will open their series against the impending Al west champion Angels, so the Yankees could see Boston again, or even the Angels who eliminated the Yankees in five games in the ALDS in 2005 and in four games in 2002. There years ago it was Detroit eliminating the Yankees in four games in the ALDS
“Everything is clicking now,” said winning pitcher Andy Pettitte (14-7) who will probably get the ball and follow 19-game winner CC Sabathia as the third pitcher in the opening round playoff series. “When you miss out it makes you a little more hungry to get back there,” he said referring to the Yankees missing the playoffs last season.
As the Yankees celebrated, with what they hope is the first of three more, they realize there is much more work to be done. The stigma of losing in the opening round of their last playoff appearance to Cleveland in 2007 remains, so they very well know that the playoffs are a different season.
“This is a fun group and exciting group,” commented Girardi who makes his first appearance as a playoff manager after being a part of the Yankees championship teams under former manager Joe Torre. “The way last year ended left a bad taste in our mouth and we worked to get here since spring training,” he said.
e-mail Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com