Posted on September 20, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
It’s been a long, strange season for the New York Yankees, one that’s been filled with more injuries than most major league teams could possible imagine. But on Thursday night, the Bronx Bombers officially overcame all of the injuries and all of the setbacks, notching their 100th win of the season and clinching the AL East title in the process. With a 9-1 win over the Angels, the Yankees solidified their first division title since 2012.
“It’s important for us to realize how special this is and how special of an accomplishment this is, but at the same time, we’ve got a lot of work left to go,” said Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner during the postgame celebration. “We’ve got a lot of baseball left to play. We’re going to continue to do that and feel great about the team that we’ve had all year and the guys we have in this room. Hopefully it is the beginning of something special.”
The Yankees have been forced to settle for a Wild Card spot in their last three trips to the postseason, often overshadowed by the rival Red Sox. But there’s been little doubt this season that the Yankees are the best team in the AL East. Despite an MLB-record 30 players being put on the Injured List over the course of the season, the Yankees have shown off incredible depth and been able to stay on top of the AL East most of the year, ultimately pulling away from both the Red Sox and the 90-win Rays.
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“One of the things that we talked about in Spring Training was winning the division, and that’s a reality now,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “You think of a lot of people that contributed to this. Obviously, we have bigger goals, but this is an important step and I’m just proud of the guys and so many people – some that aren’t even in that room right now – that have contributed to us being here.
Even as the Yankees celebrate their division title, there are questions about healthy they’re going to be heading into the postseason. Dellin Betances was lost after making just one appearance this season while catcher Gary Sanchez and DH Edwin Encarnacion are both on the mend after suffering injuries earlier this month. On the bright side, Giancarlo Stanton returned after a lengthy absence earlier this week. Ace Luis Severino also made his season debut this week. If Sanchez and Encarnacion return, the Yankees could be as healthy as they’ve been all season at the start of October.
Injured players or not, the Yankees have their sights set on winning their first World Series since 2009. Avoiding the Wild Card Game will certainly help them achieve that. But the Yankees are also hoping to beat out the Astros for home-field advantage. Both teams currently have 100 wins, although the Astros have one more game to play. However, whether they achieve home-field advantage or not, the Yankees will head to the postseason confident, having already overcome so much and knowing that they’re capable of achieving more.
“We got a lot bigger fish to fry, but this is the first step along the way,” said Boone. “Nothing has got in their way. Whatever has come adversity-wise, they faced it and powered right through it.”