The New York Yankees found an unusual place to celebrate clinching a playoff berth in an atypical season.
After losing at Boston on Sunday, the Yankees headed to Buffalo, New York, for the start of a series against Toronto, and New York's berth in the expanded 16-team playoffs was clinched when Seattle lost at San Diego later in the day.
When the Yankees arrived at The Westin Buffalo, they gathered with masks on for a toast.
“We had a glass of champagne together at the hotel lobby, and acknowledged we still have things to accomplish,” New York ace Gerrit Cole said Monday before the four-game series against the Blue Jays.
New York won 10 straight games before Sunday's loss, their longest winning streak since 2012. The Yankees are headed to the playoffs for the 22nd time in 26 seasons as they seek their first title since 2009.
“I’m just proud of the fact that we’re back to the dance in what’s been a challenging and crazy year for everyone involved,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We know what our goals are, we know what our expectations are, and let’s go do it.”
New York last missed the playoffs in 2016. The Yankees entered Monday second in the AL East at 31-22, 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay.
Coming off Sunday’s 10-2 defeat at Fenway Park, Boone said it was always going to be difficult to duplicate the typical energy and excitement that comes with clinching a playoff spot.
“We didn’t win yesterday, so you don’t have the normal run out on the field in that situation,” he said. “But it was nice to at least get to address the team and be together when we got into Buffalo.”
Infielder DJ LeMahieu wasn’t a huge fan of the low-key celebration.
“It’s not as fun as doing it in a locker room and trying to burn each other’s eyes,” LeMahieu said. “But, you know, it’s still a big accomplishment and I think we all realize that.”
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