Masahiro Tanaka pitched seven effective innings, and four Yankees hit home runs as New York clinched the American League East title with a 9-1 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
The Yankees (100-54) won their first division title since 2012, a season that ended with them getting swept in four games by the Detroit Tigers in the AL Championship Series. New York missed the postseason in three of the next four seasons but qualified as the first wild-card team in each of the past two seasons.
"It feels good, it really does," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "One of the things we talked about in spring training was winning the division, and that's a reality now. 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."
This year, the Yankees took first place for good on June 15 and led by at least 7 1/2 games ever since July 18. They ended their third-longest drought (six seasons) between divisional titles since the divisional era began in 1969.
New York's DJ LeMahieu hit a three-run homer in the second inning to open the scoring, and Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier later added home runs.
Tanaka (11-8) gave up one run on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks.
After waiting Wednesday inside the clubhouse to celebrate for nearly three hours following a 3-2 loss, only to watch the second-place Tampa Bay Rays rally for a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees had another down moment early Thursday. Staff ace Domingo German was placed on administrative leave under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy.
Once the game started, the Yankees got off to a good start. LeMahieu hit his 25th homer, sending a 1-0 pitch from Andrew Heaney (4-6) into the right-center-field seats for a three-run homer in the second.
After Tanaka allowed Kole Calhoun's 32nd homer in the fourth, Gardner made it 4-1 in the bottom half with his 26th homer.
Gardner added a two-run double in the sixth to extend the lead to 6-1.
Maybin hit a solo homer and Clint Frazier added a two-run drive in the eighth.
Cory Gearrin pitched a perfect eighth inning and Aroldis Chapman tossed a scoreless ninth to close it out.
Heaney allowed six runs on five hits in five-plus innings. The left-hander struck out eight and walked three.
The Yankees reached 100 victories in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2002-04. Aaron Boone became the first manager in major league history to reach 100 wins in each of his first two seasons as a manager.
The Angels (69-84) fell to 15-35 in their past 50 games.
--Field Level Media