NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) -- Jorge Posada has come through in his fair share of clutch Bronx at-bats.
But amid a season of strife, Wednesday night's dramatic hit to secure the Yankees' clincher had to be one of the sweetest.
"It's not about me, it really isn't," Posada said. "I have to thank the fans. They've been so supportive of me my whole career. I've got to thank them. They've been there this whole year and it's been tough."
Posada came off the bench and helped the Bombers to yet another first-place finish, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run single in the eighth inning. The big hit propelled New York to sweep the Tampa Bay Rays by identical 4-2 scores in a day-night doubleheader, clinching the AL East title.
"This ballpark has seen a lot of amazing things this year," Nick Swisher said. "For Jorge to get the hit to win the division is only appropriate."
So filled with emotion was Posada, he was sure the game was over when his bases-loaded hit bounced into right field as pinch-runner Greg Golson came home from third.
"I thought it was the bottom of the ninth, to tell the truth," Posada said. "Then I saw Tex (Mark Teixeira) scoring from second base, and I was like, 'What's going on?'"
Back in May, Posada had asked to be taken out of the lineup after he learned Yankees manager Joe Girardi had dropped him to No. 9 in the batting order for a game against Boston.
He returned the next day and apologized, and seemed to accept his role as a part-time designated hitter.
"It's been a tough year, but I don't look at the past, I look at the future. I look at the day by day. I keep looking forward," Posada said. "We got something special going on here and, hopefully, we can continue this ride."
Girardi also had Jeter and Alex Rodriguez on the bench, but he decided Posada was more used to pinch hitting at this stage.
"This is a guy who has been a great Yankee, has had a wonderful career and has had a lot of big hits in his time," the manager said. "He's found a way to enjoy this season, which I think was really important. The thing about this game, we all want to believe we can play it forever."
Accomplishing most of their regular-season goals with a week to spare, the Yankees earned their 16th playoff berth in 17 seasons by winning the day game behind Robinson Cano's tiebreaking, two-run double in the eighth. Mariano Rivera, a five-time World Series champion along with Posada and Derek Jeter, closed out the opener for save No. 603, extending his own career record.
"You think about the two games we won today, with Mo closing the first one and Jorgy getting the big hit in the second one, it's awesome," Girardi said.
Did you have a feeling Posada would come through? Be heard in the comments below...
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