Yankees revel in AL East title while possible suspension for Domingo German looms

NEW YORK – After turning their clubhouse into a nightclub, complete with strobe lights, hit rap songs and Champagne and beer flowing in every direction, the freshly crowned AL East champion Yankees opted to take their celebration onto the field.

They gathered near the mound as a small group of fans watched from the main concourse, and stadium workers started cleaning the stands. They waited on Tommy Kahnle for a moment, allowing the human can of Red Bull to join in on the fun after he had earlier done his best Stone Cold Steve Austin impression, dousing himself while drinking from two Champagne bottles simultaneously.

Eventually, they all settled down and posed for some cameras while Aaron Judge uncorked a bottle of bubbly and started spraying it.

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Despite all the injuries and setbacks, the Yankees once again are atop the AL East.

“This team, we’re hungry,” Judge said. “We’re ready for some more.”

The postseason-bound Yankees celebrate after winning the American League East on Thursday night in the Bronx. (USA TODAY Sports)
The postseason-bound Yankees celebrate after winning the American League East on Thursday night in the Bronx. (USA TODAY Sports)

This celebratory scene that followed the Yankees’ 9-1 win over the Angels marked a stark contrast to the pregame scene in the aftermath of Domingo German being placed on administrative leave due to an alleged domestic violence incident.

MLB announced its investigation about an hour and a half before the Yankees’ clubhouse opened, and the clubhouse was quiet and sparse. The team later skipped batting practice with the field instead being occupied by the pitchers.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman addressed the team before the game in what Boone described as a “candid” conversation.

The Yankees will wait to learn German’s fate, but sources told Yahoo Sports that the team is preparing as if the righty will not be part of their roster.

“It’s a difficult situation that none of us really know that many details about,” Boone said following Thursday’s win. “So you just try and lay it out. Sometimes things come up over the course of a season that you’re not necessarily prepared for, and you just try to talk through it the best you can.”

Tommy Kahnle was the life of the clubhouse party. (Getty Images)
Tommy Kahnle was the life of the clubhouse party. (Getty Images)

German cannot be with the team while on administrative leave, and thus was not involved in the postgame celebrations that came a day later than anticipated.

After entering Wednesday with a magic number of one, the Bronx Bombers fell to the Angels, 3-2. The entire team stayed at Yankee Stadium to see if the Dodgers could top the Rays, and allow them to celebrate anyway.

The clubhouse was covered in plastic. Goggles were close by, ready to be worn.

But close to 1 a.m. ET Thursday, the Rays completed a come-from-behind 8-7 victory in 11 innings at Dodger Stadium, leaving the Bombers in the same spot.

“We were ready to go,” Boone said. “Hopefully we have better luck tomorrow.”

The Yankees certainly did have better luck Thursday.

AL MVP candidate D.J. LeMahieu provided early offense with a two-out, three-run homer in the second that gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

And that was more than enough run support for Masahiro Tanaka, who cruised through seven innings of one-run ball on an economical 86 pitches.

After closer Aroldis Chapman recorded the final out, the Yankees showed little emotion on the field — their handshake line business-like — before pouring into the clubhouse and pouring bubbly all over one another.

As media members entered, Boone stood near the entranceway, watching from afar as his players enjoyed this notable achievement. The clubhouse was covered in plastic to prevent the booze from staining the carpet.

Players wore postseason hats and shirts while celebrating with Judge even spraying some members of the media with Champagne.

“This is just the beginning,” said Judge, limited to 96 games due to injuries. “We’re going to celebrate tonight and have fun with it. A long season, lots of ups and downs, enjoy it tonight but we got a lot more baseball to play.”

As songs from Travis Scott, Drake, YG and others blasted, the players transitioned between interviews and celebrating with their teammates.

Kahnle certainly had a fun time while engaging with fellow pitchers, who doused him with Champagne at one moment.

The carpet felt almost like a slip-n-slide with one Yankee yelling out how everyone’s shoes were fighting a losing battle.

And, yes, there were plenty of selfies.

“It’s been a great year, with all the injuries and stuff, guys just kept stepping up. We’re just a bunch of savages,” first baseman Luke Voit said. “That’s it.”

Thursday marked what the Yankees hope is the first of four celebrations in September and October, culminating in their 28th World Series title.

“After what happened to us last year, Boston had a great year, but we got back our confidence. Got something to prove,” Voit said. “It’s a stepping stone for what we want to happen and I can’t wait to go to war with these guys.”

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