Yanks celebrate 8 straight

A complicated mix of factors gives New York the AL East title. But Boston stays alive for the wild card.

Associated Press
Published October 2, 2005

BOSTON - The Yankees are going to the playoffs. And the Red Sox still can join them.

New York won its eighth consecutive American League East title Saturday, scorching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield for three homers and riding Randy Johnson to an 8-4 victory.

Under baseball rules, the Yankees (95-66) clinched the division over Boston (94-67) because of Cleveland's loss to Chicago in the Central. The loss by the Indians (93-68) eliminated the possibility of a three-way tie - and an unprecedented three-team tiebreaker. New York won the East by clinching the season series against Boston 10-8.

Alex Rodriguez (No. 48), Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui homered, and Rodriguez had four hits to help Johnson settle down and win his sixth straight. The Red Sox got two home runs from Manny Ramirez and one by ex-Devil Ray Tony Graffanino.

When Johnny Damon hit a high chopper back to the mound, Mariano Rivera grabbed it and first baseman Tino Martinez pumped his fist as he caught the final out. The Yankees streamed out of the dugout in celebration, surviving their most difficult regular season in a decade.

"I can't take my glasses off. I'm crying like a baby," Yankees manager Joe Torre said after the final out.

Once inside the clubhouse, the Yankees sprayed champagne that dripped from the brims of the newest AL East champion caps in their collection. For veterans such as Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams, it is No. 8; for Robinson Cano, Aaron Small, Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon, it is a first.

Because of the Indians' loss, the defending World Series champions can do no worse than a tie for the wild card, news that got a modest cheer when it was announced on the Fenway scoreboard.

A Boston win or Cleveland loss today puts the Red Sox into the postseason. If Boston loses and Cleveland wins, the two meet Monday in a one-game playoff.

"I have been fortunate to be a part of this three times," Johnson said of his time with the Mariners and Diamondbacks. "But you could see a lot of new kids in here that haven't experienced this."

The Yankees trailed Boston by 51/2 games on the morning of Aug. 11, but the Yankees went 35-12 the rest of the way.