NEW YORK -- The backdrop was surreal.A hollow Yankee Stadium with clusters of Boston fans in attendance chanting, "Let's go Red Sox," in a place Boston never felt welcome. Mark Teixeira's walk-off grand slam for a 5-3 Yankees win on Wednesday shocked the Red Sox as they slowly trotted off
NEW YORK -- The backdrop was surreal.
A hollow Yankee Stadium with clusters of Boston fans in attendance chanting, "Let's go Red Sox," in a place Boston never felt welcome. Mark Teixeira's walk-off grand slam for a 5-3 Yankees win on Wednesday shocked the Red Sox as they slowly trotted off the field and into the dugout.
But the unsettling feeling left the park just as fast as Teixeira's blast. Toronto had already lost, 3-2, to Baltimore on Wednesday, so the Red Sox were going to clinch the division with or without a win.
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Sure, the Red Sox didn't get to swarm the field in a blurry mess of jubilee in front of the city that despises them the most. But as players made their way to the clubhouse donned with endless carts of bubbly, the Red Sox celebrated anyway.
"So crazy," David Ortiz said in his swan song season. "I wanted to celebrate on that field so bad, but it is what it is. We end up being the first-place team in the American League [East] and we're going to celebrate anyway."
The Red Sox celebrated in the Bronx for the first time since the 2004 AL Championship Series. What better way to clinch the division than in your rival's house? Mookie Betts, who hit two-run double in the eighth inning to break a scoreless tie, said the clinch feels sweeter in the Bronx.
"I pulled through, I pulled through," Betts said. "It feels fun to clinch for sure, but to do it here is definitely a lot better."
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Jackie Bradley Jr. said the fans cheering for Boston in the Bronx was something he'd never imagined before.
"It's special. You're not going to hear [cheers] too often at Yankee Stadium," Bradley said. "We're excited to be here, great experience for everyone. We're living it up."
As players called family and friends from the visiting clubhouse, it was clear that on Wednesday night, both teams walked away with a victory.
"I congratulated them on a tremendous year," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "One inning should not take away from the fact that they're AL East champions, we're AL East champions. It's been a hard fought battle. They should be proud of the work that they've put in, but by no means is this the end. This is just the beginning of the postseason."
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President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski closed his eyes tight and smiled wide as a group of players poured champagne over him. He was, perhaps, one of the happiest people in the clubhouse festivities.
"This is fantastic," Dombrowski said, "but this is just the first step."
Deesha Thosar is a reporter for MLB.com.