World Series champion Yankees into playoffs

TORONTO Tue Sep 28, 2010 11:35pm EDT

1 of 3. New York Yankees Brett Gardner is called safe at home plate as Toronto Blue Jays catcher John Buck applies the tag in the fifth inning of their American League baseball game in Toronto September 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Thornhill

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TORONTO (Reuters) - The reigning World Series champion New York Yankees clinched a return to the playoffs on Tuesday by beating the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1.

The struggling Yankees, who had lost 14 of their previous 21 games, called on ace left-hander CC Sabathia (21-7) to get the job done and he delivered, taking a two-hitter into the ninth inning before closer Mariano Rivera got the final outs.

New York improved to 94-64 for the season and secured at least a wildcard berth as they continue to battle the Tampa Bay Rays (94-63) for the AL East title and possible home-field advantage in the playoffs.

The Yankees were subdued on the field, going through their routine post-victory congratulations after booking their 15th trip to the playoffs in the last 16 years.

Once in the locker-room, however, they cut loose as the traditional champagne celebration commenced.

Captain Derek Jeter scored three runs and slugger Alex Rodriguez drove in two, but most of the credit for the playoff-clinching victory was given to Sabathia, who shut down the Blue Jays and took the pressure off his teammates.

"We had to work really hard for this, this is a very tough division. It hasn't been easy," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters before being asked what he thought of Sabathia.

"He's a true ace. When you have a losing streak he stops it. When you look at this Toronto team they are dangerous, dangerous, up and down the line-up, and he shut them down."

(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Frank Pingue)

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