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OC Register: Angels routed as Yankees clinch AL East title with 100th win

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    Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney delivers against the New York Yankees during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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    New York Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka delivers against the Los Angeles Angels during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

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    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 19: Andrew Heaney #28 of the Los Angeles Angels and Kevan Smith #44 of the Los Angeles Angels lead their team on to the field prior to their game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 19, 2019 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK — The resilient New York Yankees powered their way to the club’s first American League East division title since 2012, routing the short-handed Angels 9-1 Thursday night behind three RBIs each from old mainstay Brett Gardner and newcomer DJ LeMahieu.

A day after wasting a chance to clinch first place, the homer-happy Yankees went ahead when LeMahieu hit a three-run drive in the second inning and breezed to their 100th win.

Gardner, among just two holdovers from their last World Series championship team in 2009, added a solo shot in the fourth and then hit a two-run double in the sixth. Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier homered for good measure in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman struck out Albert Pujols to end it as fans’ cellphones flashed to record to moment.

Players lined up for handshakes and hugs, more exuberantly than usual, but there was no wild celebration on the field.

“We got a lot bigger fish to fry, but this is the first step along the way,” Boone said. “Nothing has got in their way. Whatever has come adversity-wise, they faced it and powered right through it.”

Despite putting 30 players on the injured list this season, New York (100-54) wrapped up first place with eight games to spare and made Aaron Boone the first manager to win 100 games in each of his first two major league seasons.

The Yankees open the playoffs on Oct. 4, likely against Minnesota, which leads the AL Central, or the wild-card winner.

Masahiro Tanaka (11-8), in line to start the opener, allowed Kole Calhoun’s home run leading off the fourth. The Angels (69-84), who are playing the final weeks of the regular season without AL MVP frontrunner Mike Trout, designated hitter Shohei Ohtani and outfielder Justin Upton, had just four hits in seven innings off Tanaka, who struck out six and walked one.

Angels starting pitcher Andrew Heaney (4-6) gave up six runs and five hits in five-plus innings.

The Yankees might go to the postseason without their winningest pitcher, Domingo Germán. The 27-year-old right-hander, who is 18-4, was placed on administrative leave under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy earlier in the day.

New York’s 19th AL East title was its first following a run of 13 in 17 years that started in Derek Jeter’s rookie season. The Yankees, led by young stars Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres, will be making their 21st postseason appearance in 25 years and 55th overall – 22 more than any other team.

And they will head to October following their 21st 100-win season, their first in back-to-back years since 2002-04.

New York moved into sole possession of the lead for good on June 15 with the start of an eight-game winning streak, beginning a spurt of 13 victories in 14 games that ended the month. The Yankees led by 6-1/2 games at the All-Star Game, won seven of their first nine after the break and have led by seven to 11-1/2 games since. And they achieved their success despite so many players landing on the injured list, the most in the major leagues since at least 2004.

After Wednesday’s 3-2 loss, the Yankees waited in their clubhouse for three hours until just before 1 a.m., hoping second-place Tampa Bay would lose to the Dodgers in Los Angeles and ensure the division title for New York. But the Rays rallied in the ninth and defeated the Dodgers in 11 innings.

“It was probably actually a good little team building, bonding, one of those times you enjoy being together,” Boone said,

Protective plastic remained overnight wrapping the six large-screen televisions in the Yankees clubhouse, a sign that the bubbly and beer celebration was not too far off.

LeMahieu’s homer, which followed a rare infield hit by slow-legged catcher Austin Romine with two outs, landed about three rows over the scoreboard in right-center, giving him career bests of 25 homers and 97 RBIs in his first season with the Yankees. Gardner also set career highs for homers (26) and RBIs (69), and New York extended its team record with 292 long balls.

In his second game back from an injury layoff of nearly three months, Giancarlo Stanton was 0 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts as a designated hitter his second game back from a layoff of nearly three months.

STAR TURN

Pujols had a .328 career batting average when he left the St. Louis Cardinals after 11 major league seasons and joined the Angels for 2012. His career average dipped to .29995 with an 0 for 4 night. His average had not been below .300 at the end of a game since a 4-for-14 start as a rookie in 2001, according to the Elias Sport Bureau.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees right-hander Dellin Betances has been told surgery is not recommended for the partially torn left Achilles tendon that ended his season after eight pitches. Boone said the foot will be in a walking boot for another four weeks. … Judge was given a day off after he landed on his right shoulder during an attempt for a diving catch on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Angels (RHP Jamie Barria, 4-9, 5.95 ERA) at Astros (RHP Zack Greinke, 16-5, 2.95 ERA), Friday, 5 p.m., Fox Sports West, 830 AM

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