For the team, winning the league seemed destined at the start of the season after the Yankees rose to a seemingly insurmountable lead on the leaderboard. As of July 9, the Yankees’ advantage is 15 games against the next closest opponent. But a burst of August came in early September, when the Yankees lost 20 of their 29 games, resulting in only 3 ½ games remaining through September 9.
“There are definitely days for me, personally, where it’s frustrating,” Boone said of the slump. “But there is always faith that we will make it through.”
They did. September has been a lot better, thanks in large part to Judge, who was in the long run their most effective ticker. They have also seen injured players like Anthony Rizzo return healthy and productive, while others, like Gleyber Torres, have also featured. Torres is now safe in 20 consecutive games and rookie Oswaldo Cabrera is scoring .321 goals with four doubles and four home runs in his last 15 games after drawing 2 of 4 Tuesday’s match.
After beating Toronto, the Yankees had a heated celebration on the field, as they would after any routine win. But back at the clubhouse, they put on shirts with the words “The East is ours,” written on them, listened to Boone’s speech and then broke out.
Judge said the end-of-season struggles made the Yankees stronger and strengthened their internal relationships.
“When you’re playing 162 games, you’re going to have times when things don’t go your way, when you think you’re doing everything right, but you can’t win,” he said. “But what makes this team special is that the boys didn’t give up. They come to work every day and are ready to go out and help us win.”
But no one has done more to help the Yankees win this year than Judge himself, who will likely be rewarded for his efforts with the post-season AL Player of the Year award. That was all resolved, and divisional titles were indicated on the web.
The only questions left now are how the Yankees will go in the post-season, and whether Judge will hit another home run, or maybe two.