By HOWIE RUMBERG  AP Sports Writer

NEW YORK (AP) _ Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson each hit a
pair of homers, powering the New York Yankees past the Boston Red
Sox 14-2 on a raucous Wednesday night in the Bronx for their 13th
AL East title in 17 years.

In front of fans poised to party from the first pitch on the
final night of the regular season, the Yankees completed a
three-game sweep of the last-place Red Sox to win their second
consecutive division crown. The championship was locked up by the
seventh inning, when Baltimore’s 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay went final
and prompted a huge ovation from the 47,393 in attendance
Alex Rodriguez stepped out of the batter’s box, and several
players high-fived and hugged in the dugout while coaches shook

But the subdued celebration didn’t really start until Freddy
Garcia struck Ivan De Jesus looking to end it. Players hugged and
slapped fives on the field and put on their AL East champion shirts
and hats as fans feted them with a standing ovation with “New
York, New York,” blaring over the loudspeakers. The team walked
off the field to chants of “Let’s go Yankees!”
“Now the real season starts,” Derek Jeter said.

Cano tied a career high with six RBIs as New York (95-67)
finished two games ahead of Baltimore and secured home-field
advantage throughout the AL playoffs. The Yankees will open on the
road Sunday against the winner of Friday’s wild-card game between
Baltimore and Texas.

New York led the division by 10 games on July 18 but the pesky
Orioles caught up on Sept. 4 and were tied with the Yankees after
10 different days in September.

New York rode the long ball all season and the four homers in
the finale set a franchise record at 245.

Hiroki Koroda (16-11) shut Boston down with an encouraging
performance after struggling through much of September. He allowed
two runs and seven hits over seven innings.

With New York heading into the playoffs for the first time since
1981 without career saves leader Mariano Rivera _ he tore a knee
ligament shagging flies in May _ the rout gave the Yankees a chance
to rest Rafael Soriano, who threw 43 pitches over two innings of
the 12-inning, 4-3 comeback win Tuesday night.

Bobby Valentine brought the lineup card out to the umpires for
what might have been the final time as manager of the Red Sox, who
finished last in the AL East at 69-93 in his first season leading
the club. Boston ended the year with eight straight losses, their
longest skid since losing nine in a row in 2001. The Red Sox lost
26 off their last 33 games.

Granderson hit his career-best 42nd homer in the second, a
three-run shot off Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-7), making his first start
since Sept. 19. Cano then connected in the third for a 5-1 lead.
One batter later Matsuzaka was finished, most likely ending his
six-year career with Boston. The Red Sox paid $51.1 million to win
the rights to the Japanese star and gave him a $52 million
contract. Matsuzaka went 33-15 in his first two years, winning a
World Series in 2007. But injuries, including elbow-reconstruction
surgery June 2011, marred the last four years and he finished the
deal 50-37.

Cano hit his 33rd homer in the fifth, followed Alex Rodriguez’s
double, A-Rod’s first extra-base hit since Sept. 14.

Granderson matched his teammate with a solo shot to right-center
leading off the seventh for a 10-2 lead.

The Yankees narrowly avoided what would’ve been their biggest
blown division lead in team history _ they led by six games in 1933
and finished seven back of the original Washington Senators.

This summer’s skid was brought on as CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte
and Rodriguez got hurt. The Yankees stumbled through August _ often
looking old and tired. But New York went 18-9 down the stretch,
thanks to two stirring comeback victories led by 40-year-old Raul
Ibanez, New York went 19-8 down the stretch.

NOTES: Jeter led the AL with 216 hits and finished with 99 runs.
… The Yankees won the season series against Boston 13-5, their
most wins since 2001. … There were 232 home runs at Yankee
Stadium, up from 208 last year. There were four games with no
homers as opposed to nine last year, seven in 2010 and just one in
the first year. … The Yankees had a home attendance of 3,542,406,
their lowest in four seasons at new Yankee Stadium. Attendance was
3.72 million in 2009, climbed to 3.77 million in 2010, then dropped
to 3.65 million last year. … The Red Sox hired Eddie Bane as a
special assistant, player personnel. Bane spent the last two
seasons as a scout for the Detroit Tigers. He was director of
scouting for the Angels from 2004-10. Among the players picked
under his direction: Jered Weaver, Kendrys Morales, Mark Trumbo and
Mike Trout.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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