Yankees clinch first AL East title since 2012

New York (AFP) –

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The New York Yankees clinched their first American League East division title since 2012 on Thursday with their 100th win of the Major League Baseball season.

The Yankees cruised past the Los Angeles Angels 9-1 at Yankee Stadium -- one day after wasting a chance in a loss to the Angels.

DJ LeMahieu belted a three-run homer in the second inning to give the Yankees a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

Veteran Brett Gardner also drove in three runs, including a fourth-inning solo shot that was his 26th of the season.

That was plenty of support for Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who rebounded from a couple of shaky outings with a solid performance,

He surrendered four hits in seven innings, with Kole Calhoun's solo homer off the Japanese hurler accounting for the Angels' only run.

Gardner's homer was the Yankees' 290th of the season, passing this season's Minnesota Twins for the most by a team in major league history.

His two-run double in the sixth gave the Yankees a five-run lead and Cameron Maybin and Clint Frazier both homered in the ninth.

With their 100th win of the season, the Yankees pulled even with the Houston Astros for the most wins in the majors.

Second-year manager Aaron Boone earned his first division title as manager and his 200th win, becoming the first manager in history to have at least 100 wins in each of his first two seasons.

"It feels good. It really does," Boone said. "One of the things that we talked about in spring training was winning the division, and that's a reality now.

"Obviously we have bigger goals, but this is an important step and I'm just proud of the guys and so many people -- some that aren't even in that room right now -- that have contributed to us being here."

Right fielder Aaron Judge sat out the game a day after getting banged up making a diving catch.

Boone said he thought Judge was fine, and the right fielder was on hand for the post-game celebration -- although he said the team's priority remained a 28th World Series title.

"We had a goal in spring training to come out and win the division. We knew how important that was to be World Series champions," Judge said. "Now we want to go out there and do that."

Gardner added: "We've got a lot of baseball left to play" and it is "hopefully the beginning of something special."

The Yankees have struggled with injuries all season, with 30 players landing on the injured list.

They could find themselves without another key player in the post-season after Major League Baseball placed pitcher Domingo German on administrative leave under its domestic violence policy.

No immediate details of what led to the move were immediately given, but the 27-year-old Dominican right-hander will be sidelined while an investigation is ongoing.