Yankees Clinch AL East TitleDAVID GINSBURG , Associated Press
Oct. 1, 1999 9:04 AM ET
BALTIMORE (AP) _ The lockers were covered with plastic, there was plenty of beer on ice and almost all the players were soaked in champagne.
Just another celebration for the New York Yankees, who never seem to tire of such merriment.
``Winning never gets old. That's what you play for,'' said Derek Jeter, who had two hits Thursday night as the Yankees clinched their second straight AL East title with a 12-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Baltimore won the first game of the day-night doubleheader 5-0, but that only served to delay the inevitable.
``The more you do it, the better it gets,'' said Yankees manager Joe Torre, who has guided New York to three division crowns in four years. ``I feel fortunate to be here. I still get emotional, for I know how much work it takes to get here.''
The celebration occurred three weeks later than last year, yet the champagne tasted just as sweet and the music in the clubhouse was just as loud.
``A division title is a division title. It doesn't matter how you do it,'' said Scott Brosius, who hit two homers in the nightcap.
The victory eliminated the Boston Red Sox, who will enter the playoffs as the wild-card team. Allen Watson got the final out moments before the Red Sox lost to Chicago 5-2, enabling the Yankees to truly savor the moment.
``We were trying so hard to get that last out before that `F' went up there in Chicago because we didn't want to be backing into it, so to speak,'' Torre said.
The Yankees have spent much of the year trying to come up with a sufficient encore to their amazing 1998 season, when they went 114-48 and won the World Series. That team clinched the AL East crown on Sept. 9 and finished 22 games ahead of second-place Boston.
This year, the Red Sox made the Yankees work a lot harder. But New York will once again enter the postseason as division champions.
``It wasn't a matter of us having a bad year as much as the team chasing us was having a pretty good year. There's a bunch of teams that want to be standing where we are right now,'' Brosius said.
Bernie Williams got two hits to reach 200 for the first time in his career. He and Jeter are the first Yankee teammates to have 200 hits in the same season since Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio did it in 1937. Williams scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning of the nightcap after hit No. 199, and drove in a run in the sixth with No. 200.
Orlando Hernandez (17-9) allowed three runs on eight hits in seven innings.
New York went up 4-3 in the fifth when Williams, Tino Martinez and Chili Davis hit successive singles off Jim Corsi (1-3).
Run-scoring singles by Williams and Davis made it 6-3 in the sixth. New York pulled away with a six-run eighth that featured a three-run double by Paul O'Neill and a three-run homer by Brosius.
Shane Spencer also homered for the Yankees, who are a game behind Cleveland in the battle for best record in the AL.
``Now that we've clinched, I think we can go to Tampa and play a little more relaxed,'' reliever Jeff Nelson said. ``We still have something big to play for.''
Nelson, who was born in Baltimore, savored the irony of the moment.
``I grew up loving the Orioles and hating the Yankees,'' he said. ``Not in a million years did I ever expect to be in this position. And yes, I love it.''
Jerry Hairston Jr. had four hits, including a homer, for the Orioles. Derrick May and Jesse Garcia also homered and B.J. Surhoff had three hits.
New York got to celebrate its eighth AL East title after the nightcap, but Mike Mussina made sure the Yankees wouldn't pop any champagne corks at his expense in the day game.
The right-hander struck out 10 _ nine looking _ and walked one. Mussina (18-7) retired 13 straight during one stretch and improved to 5-0 in seven starts since Aug. 6.
The Orioles took advantage Roger Clemens' control problems to build a 4-0 lead after three innings. That was more than enough offense for Mussina, whose 18 wins is tied for second in the AL behind Boston's Pedro Martinez (23).
Clemens (14-10) hit three batters and four of his five walks turned into runs. He struck out nine and allowed only four hits in six innings.
``I was not happy with the first game, but that's over,'' said Clemens, who last pitched in a World Series in 1986. ``It's exciting here, a great, great feeling.''
Notes: Surhoff, with 206 hits, is just five short of Cal Ripken's club record. ... It was Brosius' 11th career multihomer game. ... Hernandez is 4-0 lifetime against Baltimore, 2-0 this season.