Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1

Yankees in playoffs for 15th time in 16 years

Associated Press / September 29, 2010

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TORONTO — For the New York Yankees, the season is just starting.

The Yankees clinched their 15th postseason berth in the last 16 years and CC Sabathia got his 21st win of the season, beating the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-1, last night.

“It’s just a first step,’’ first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “No one in here is satisfied with this season. Everyone knows it’s World Series championship or bust.’’

Derek Jeter scored three runs and drove in another for the Yankees, who have reached the postseason every year but one since 1995. New York missed the playoffs in 2008, finishing behind Tampa Bay Rays and the Red Sox.

The Rays, who hold a half-game lead over the Yankees in the AL East, also clinched a playoff berth last night, shutting out Baltimore, 5-0.

Sabathia (21-7) allowed one run and three hits in 8 1/3 innings to match Andy Pettitte’s 21 wins in 1996 and 2003 for the most by a Yankee since Ron Guidry went 22-6 in 1985.

“Two words: Cy Young,’’ outfielder Nick Swisher said of Sabathia. “No doubt, man. He’s been a horse all year long, he’s done a tremendous job.’’

The lefthander, who walked two and struck out eight, is 9-3 in 12 career starts against Toronto, including 5-1 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts at Rogers Centre.

“You can’t say enough about CC,’’ Alex Rodriguez said. “I’m speechless when it comes to him. The minute he put on the pinstripes he’s been everything that we’ve expected and a lot more. He’s been a dream for our franchise.’’

Mariano Rivera got the final two outs for the Yankees, who kept their on-field celebration muted before retiring to the clubhouse for a brief speech from manager Joe Girardi.

“I congratulated them and just told them this is the first step,’’ Girardi said. “There’s a lot of work to be done.’’

After that, it was party time, with players donning playoff hats and goggles and dousing one another with champagne and beer.

Rodriguez was one of the few players not soaked in alcohol, saying the bigger celebrations were reserved for “young guys.’’ Nevertheless, he said he wanted to “honor’’ the achievement.

“You can’t say you’re too cool for this first step, you have to celebrate it and really celebrate the season,’’ Rodriguez said. “But this team is very focused and has its eye on the prize.’’

Girardi had left the decision on whether to celebrate up to the players.

“If the guys want to celebrate I’m all for it,’’ he said. “They worked really hard. We’ve been going at it since February 15, grinding and grinding and guys have been playing hard, a tough schedule in a tough division. Let them let loose a little bit. It’s nice.’’

Girardi knows there’s plenty to be decided in the final four games of the season.

“We still have aspirations of winning our division and trying to get homefield advantage,’’ he said. “I’ve got to pick my spots to rest guys.’’

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