Morning Juice: Yanks 1st to clinch, end 1-year playoff drought

This and almost every weekday a.m. during baseball season, let's rise and shine together to recap the most recent diamond doings. Roll Call starts at the Big A in Anaheim, where the Yankees — after being rudely denied their rightful place a year ago — again found themselves doing what the Bronx does best: celebrating a playoff berth.

Games of the Day: Yankees 6, Angels 5; Athletics 8, Rangers 1

Miles to go: The Yankees actually clinched a spot in the playoffs, becoming the first team in the majors to do so this season, about 45 minutes before their own game ended when the Rangers lost.

Although beating the Angels had a playoff feel to it, with New York winning at the Rally Monkey's Cage for the first time in five games this season, the Yanks seemed reserved, even a little somber after reaching the playoffs for a crazy 14th time in 15 seasons. Oh, Captain?

"We needed to win this game. We had, I guess, to get that monkey off our back — no pun intended," Derek Jeter(notes) told Yankees TV.

Jeter did concede that this feeling isn't the same as in 2008, when the Yankees watched the Red Sox, Rays and others on TV in October.

"It's a lot different," Jeter said. "Obviously last year was tough on us. We came this year, we've been playing pretty good but we need to continue.

"It's a good feeling but we still haven’t accomplished what our mission was. Our mission was to win the division and we still haven't done that."

Twenty-six world championships. Thirty-nine pennants. But you have to get to the playoffs in order to win them. In terms of the regular-season grind, the Yanks are enjoying the most impressive span in the team's estimable history.

Yankee Eras / Playoff teams

• 1995-2009: 14 of 15 seasons

• 1976-1981: five of six seasons

• 1947-1964: 15 of 18 seasons

• 1936-1943: seven of eight seasons

• 1921-1932: seven of 12 seasons

Yahoo! Sports' own Tim Brown, on the scene in Orange County, writes that these Yankees are a tad different than Bronx Bombers of bygone seasons — general manager Brian Cashman says — because they lack "soap opera" angles. Not 100-percent sure about that, but ...

You can thank A-Rod for the Yankees' 96th victory of the season. After getting N.Y. on the board with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, he drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth with a sacrifice fly. He also made a great stop at third base.

Bad defense had helped the Angels rally, but the Yankees cleaned it up in the ninth with a strike 'em out, throw 'em out.

* * *

Feelin' Rundown (none of these teams have made the playoffs in 14 of the past 15 seasons):

D-backs 10, Giants 8: The Whiffer! Mark Reynolds(notes) has achieved strikeout nirvana for the second straight season. He also reached triple digits in RBIs.

Rockies 11, Padres 10: That was a scary ninth for the Rox, but they live to tell how they're up five for the wild card.

Phillies 9, Marlins 3 (Game 1); Marlins 3, Phillies 0 (Game 2): Fishsplits.

Reds 10, Pirates 4: Bucs clinch Davey Jones' locker (last place).

Dodgers 14, Nationals 2: 99 bottles of Nationals losses on the wall.

Braves 3, Mets 1: Jurrjenji!

Cardinals 11, Astros 2: Cards can clinch NL Central today. ... If Dave Clark learns anything in these two weeks, it's to not let Chad Paronto(notes) pitch anymore. It's just 4 1/3 innings so far, but his WHIP is 3.46.

Cubs 7, Brewers 2: It was there in their face all along: Just send Milton Bradley(notes) home and all of the Cubs problems would solve themselves.

Tigers 3, Indians 1: The Indians are 3-17 in September, setting up Eric Wedge for an ugly ending and prompting left-hander Aaron Laffey(notes) to say: "It's not like we're trying to lose."

He's right, but consider: Even if they were trying to lose, it would only be a difference of three games.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5 (11 inn.): Hey, look what Aaron Hill(notes) (right) found in his helmet: His 100th RBI!

Mariners 4, Rays 3: They seemed eliminated a long time ago, but this loss ensures the Rays will be home for the playoffs.

"It's not the way we wanted this year to end," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "But, I like the way we're hanging together. I think we learned a lot this year in regard to it's not easy to repeat. You can never assume that it's just going to happen again because you were so good the previous year. It's very humbling. We'll be back next year."

Royals 5, Red Sox 1: Six times this season, Zack Greinke(notes) (15-8) allowed one or no runs and did not collect a victory. He's going to earn the Cy Young all by himself. No sharing!

Twins 8, White Sox 6: Not that the ChiSox need a closer anymore, but Bobby Jenks(notes) said he's done for the season after aggravating a strained right calf muscle. Don't piss off those calf muscles, people.

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