Yankee Stadium—With one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, the giant scoreboard in Yankee Stadium displayed the final score of the 4-1 victory of the Rays over the Orioles. The Baltimore loss gave the A.L. East crown to the New York Yankees. The crowd of 47, 393 erupted in cheers, the standing ovation was followed by the chant of “Let’s Go Yankees”.
The excitement was augmented at 10:34 when Freddy Garcia struck out Ivan de Jesus to end a game in which the Yankees crushed the Boston Red Sox, 14-2 in their final game of the 2012 regular season.
Robinson Cano continued his extra torrid hitting during the final contest of the season. He went 4 for 4 with a walk in five trips to the plate. Cano drove in six runs to lead his team to victory, two on his 32rd homer of the season on the first pitch he saw in the third, two more on the first pitch to him in the fifth, and an added two on a single in the sixth. The multi-hit game was the ninth straight for the second sacker. During those games, Cano hit safely 24 times in 39 at bats for a phenomenal .615 batting average. C.C. Sabathia said of Cano’s recent hitting, “Unbelievable, when he’s riding, he’s the best hitter in baseball.”
The Yankees leading home run hitter also belted two four baggers in the game. In his first trip to the plate in the third, Curtis Granderson hit the first pitch into the right field stands to score three runs. His 43rd homer of the year came on a full-count pitch to lead-off the five run seventh. Although Grandy set a Yankees strike out record with 195, he led the club in runs batted in with 106. The honest and articulate outfielder said of being called a home run hitter, “Not at all, I just got lucky.” He also remarked, “There’s always room for improvement, no matter what your season was.”
The four home runs gave the Yanks 245 for a franchise record, breaking their previous single season high of 244. The club set a major league mark by hitting homers in 131 games during one season.
Cano and Granderson were not the only contributors to the pennant win. Yankees captain Derek Jeter’s single in the sixth raised to 34 the number of consecutive games in which he has reached base. The Yankee skipper praised his captain, “He’s exceeded everyone’s expectations. It’s truly remarkable. It’s one of the greatest seasons I’ve ever seen.”
Starter Hiroki Kuroda also did his part in the Yankees win. He earned his 16th win of the season by hurling seven innings in which he yielded seven hits and two runs.
The Yanks will begin the ALDS on the road in either Maryland or Texas on Sunday facing the winner of the Wild Card playoff on Friday night between the Orioles and the Rangers. The Yankee brass must now decide on the composition of their postseason roster and starting rotation. They will have home field advantage in all American League games as they finished the season with the best won/loss mark in the league. This was the ninth time since 1998 that New York has had the best record in the A.L.