Yanks win, clinch 1st perhaps AMERICAN LEAGUE

August 04, 1994|By Newsday

MILWAUKEE -- The New York Yankees ran from the ZTC near-monsoon that enveloped the County Stadium field to the clubhouse for a division-clinching party like no one has seen before. There was no champagne. No high-fives. Few smiles.

Of course, it isn't every division-clincher where the participants have to be told about their accomplishment. With their 7 1/2 -inning, 2-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Yankees clinched the East title, but only in the event that the season does not pick up again after the union-threatened Aug. 12 strike.

In that event, the magic number is now zero.

"I don't look at it as a celebratory occasion at all," an un-smiling Buck Showalter said. "I think everyone hopes a settlement is reached. We hoped for a 162-game season coming, and we still hope for one. We don't want an asterisk beside this season."

That's about all the Yankees have to fight now: that dirty, little asterisk. Nothing else seems to provide a challenge for this team, winners of eight straight road games and six straight overall.

Sterling Hitchcock (4-1), who said he "didn't have very good stuff," still held the punchless Brewers to five hits over seven innings.

Homers by Jim Leyritz and Randy Velarde off Brewers starter Angel Miranda (1-5) provided enough offense. Reliever Bob Wickman was on the mound and preparing to begin the Brewers' eighth inning when the storm came. Like everything else these days, the rain was well-timed for the Yankees.

Showalter said he was made aware that they could clinch a strike-shortened season by one of his coaches on the car ride to the ballpark. Like everyone else around here, he was unmoved. Not a single player confessed that he even knew about the clinching after the game, much less cared about it. In addition to everything else, they also lead the league in stoicism.

"That's a media thing," Don Mattingly said about the unusual clinching. "I don't think anybody in here would look at it that way. We have to look at winning every game. Nothing's really changed."

When Mike Stanley was told about the clinching, he looked up, and said, "Really?" Then he added, "Nothing's been settled yet. You can't look at it like that. We haven't done anything yet. The season's not over. We've got to keep playing like there will be a season. Obviously, there is no celebration. Obviously, we're not going to sit back and take Minnesota lightly."

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