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Yankees Clinch AL East Title but Aaron Judge Does Not Homer

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For the team, winning the division seemed almost predestined earlier within the season after the Yankees ran up a seemingly insurmountable lead within the standings. Through July 9, the Yankees’ advantage was 15 games ahead of the following closest rival. But an August swoon carried into early September, when the Yankees lost 20 of 29 games, chiseling that lead right down to 3 ½ games through Sept. 9.

“Definitely there have been days for me personally, where it was frustrating,” Boone said of the slump. “But there was all the time that belief that we might get through it.”

They did. September has been much kinder, thanks largely to Judge, who for long stretches was their most efficient hitter. They’ve also seen injured players like Anthony Rizzo return to health and productivity, while others, like Gleyber Torres, have contributed, too. Torres has now reached safely in 20 straight games and the rookie Oswaldo Cabrera is batting .321 with 4 doubles and 4 home runs in his last 15 games after going 2 for 4 Tuesday.

After beating Toronto, the Yankees had a tempered celebration on the sphere, very like after any routine win. But back within the clubhouse, they donned shirts with the words, “The East Is Ours,” written on them, listened to Boone’s speech after which erupted.

Judge said the late-season struggles made the Yankees stronger and solidified their internal bonds.

“If you play 162 games, you’re going to have those times when things aren’t going your way, if you think you’re doing every little thing right, but you may’t scratch out a win,” he said. “But what makes this team special is that guys didn’t waiver. They got here to work each day and got able to go on the market and help us win.”

But nobody has done more to assist the Yankees win this 12 months than Judge himself, who’s prone to be rewarded for his effort with the A.L. Most Precious Player Award after the season. That has all but been settled, and the divisional title is already denoted on the web sites.

The one questions remaining now are how the Yankees will fare within the postseason, and whether Judge will hit one other home run, or possibly two.

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