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After toasting to clinch, Yankees get to work

@BryanHoch
September 21, 2020

There were no goggles necessary as the Yankees toasted their postseason entry in a Buffalo, N.Y., hotel lobby on Sunday evening, clinking champagne glasses and sneaking sips underneath their masks. As they achieved the first objective in this season like no other, their place confirmed by virtue of the Mariners’

There were no goggles necessary as the Yankees toasted their postseason entry in a Buffalo, N.Y., hotel lobby on Sunday evening, clinking champagne glasses and sneaking sips underneath their masks.

As they achieved the first objective in this season like no other, their place confirmed by virtue of the Mariners’ loss to the Padres, ace right-hander Gerrit Cole described the celebration as more of an acknowledgement that there will be much more work to do.

Yankees postseason FAQ

“It's obviously not as fun as getting to spray champagne over everybody,” Cole said. “Any time you can get the team together and acknowledge everybody in the room and the hard work that's put in -- regardless if you're spraying champagne or just ‘cheers’ with masks on -- it's nice.”

The Yankees are entering the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, and the 22nd in the past 26 years. That confirms manager Aaron Boone’s place as the sixth skipper to reach the playoffs in each of his first three seasons at the helm, and the first since the Cardinals’ Mike Matheny (2012-15).

Boone briefly addressed the team before the bubbly was poured.

“I’m just proud of the fact that we’re back to the dance, in what has been a challenging and crazy year for everyone involved,” Boone said. “We know what our goals are, we know what our expectations are, and let’s go do it.”

DJ LeMahieu, the American League’s reigning Player of the Week, said that he missed the usual fun of trying to blind his teammates in a wet and wild clubhouse.

Even so, LeMahieu said, “I think we have a pretty focused group that’s very excited to be back in the postseason. I know we’re looking to be doing big things again, and hopefully last year fuels us.”

If the season ended prior to Monday’s games, the Yankees (31-22) would have the fifth playoff seed, which would necessitate traveling to Target Field for a three-game Wild Card Series against the Twins (33-22).

Boone said that the Yankees will continue pushing to relocate that series to Yankee Stadium, while also pursuing an outside chance of catching the Rays (35-19) in the division.

“We’ve got an important week of baseball ahead of us,” Boone said. “It’s important we keep those blinders on, live in the moment and live in the day. I’m confident that if we do that, we’ll be where we want to be.”

Appeal adjourned

It appears that left-hander Aroldis Chapman may not have to serve a potential suspension until 2021. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported on Monday that Chapman’s appeal of a three-game suspension has been delayed “due to an issue involving availability of witnesses.”

Chapman was disciplined for intentionally throwing a 101 mph fastball near the head of the Rays’ Mike Brosseau in a Sept. 2 game against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. Boone said on Monday that he is proceeding as though Chapman will be available for the rest of 2020.

“If something comes up between now and then, we’ll adjust,” Boone said. “But I’m planning on him being with us.”

Germán’s eligibility

Though right-hander Domingo Germán is technically eligible to be activated for the postseason, Boone said that the Yankees have no plans to do so.

Germán’s suspension stems from a violation of baseball’s domestic violence policy last September, and as a condition, he has been unable to work out at any of the Yankees’ facilities in Tampa, Fla., or the Dominican Republic.

“To ramp him up and put him in this kind of [playoff] situation, I don’t think that’s really fair to anyone,” Boone said. “We look forward to Domingo being hopefully a really significant part of our team again heading into next year.”

This date in Yankees history

Sept. 21, 2008: The Yankees closed the original Yankee Stadium with a 7-3 victory over the Orioles. Following the game, captain Derek Jeter addressed a crowd of more than 54,000 fans, telling them that the team was relying on them to bring their memories across the street to the new facility.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.