Jesus Montero hits his second home run of the night in the Yankees’ win over the Buffalo Bisons on Sunday.
Aimee Dilger/the times leader
MOOSIC — In typical Yankee fashion, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre did it in style.
Catcher Jesus Montero slammed two home runs as the Yankees captured their fourth consecutive International League North Division title by cruising to a 5-1 victory over Buffalo at PNC Field.
The victory also marked the fifth consecutive time the SWB franchise has won the division, dating back to the Red Barons’ final season in 2006. The five consecutive division titles is the first time the feat has been accomplished in IL history.
The Yankees will open the Governors’ Cup playoffs Sept. 8 on the road against Louisville, Columbus or Buffalo.
“It’s great to be part of a championship,” said rookie pitcher D.J Mitchell, who tossed a masterpiece. He limited Buffalo to just one hit in seven shutout innings. “I didn’t feel any real pressure. I just went out there and tried to throw strikes.
“I honestly didn’t think about the game all day before I got the ballpark. The most important thing is that we won. If I had pitched seven shutout innings and we lost, it wouldn’t have been relevant.”
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre staked Mitchell to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run homer by Montero.
“Obviously, it was nice to jump ahead by three runs,” Mitchell said. “We hit well all day.”
Montero, who also hit a solo home run in the third inning, showed why he was named SWB Yankees Player of the Year before the game.
“It’s a great honor for me and my family,” Montero said. “Winning a (division) championship is amazing.”
Montero leads the Yankees in home runs with 18, but is most proud of the fact that he made a major contribution to the team’s success.
“This is the first season that I caught 100 games,” said the 20-year-old rookie sensation. “Hitting two home runs today is very exciting,”
It’s highly likely Montero will receive a September callup to New York, but his heart will always be with the Triple-A team.
“I really would like to help us win the league championship,” said Montero. “This is a special team. It didn’t matter whether things we good or bad, we always played together and tried out best.”
Yankee manager Dave Miley has guided the Yankees to the last four titles, including a Governors’ Cup crown in 2008. He said every title is the sweetest.
“It’s a long, hard road,” said Miley. “It all starts in spring training when we map out our plans. This is really sweet because only four teams in the league can accomplish what we did today.
“It feels better every year,” Miley added. “Every player on the team wants to be in the big leagues, but everyone who has been on this (team) deserves credit for what we’ve accomplished.”
Miley said Mitchell’s superb outing is another example of the young pitchers who have been recently promoted from Double-A Trenton that are helping the Yankees.
“He pitched extremely well and kept his composure,” said Miley.
Sunday’s win was special for outfielder Chad Huffman, who was picked up by the Yankees organization the first day of the season after being cut by San Diego.
“I never dreamed I would win up with the Yankees,” said Huffman, who got a brief mid-season callup to New York. “The Yankees are a great organization, and this team has wonderful chemistry. We’re all good friends and we have fun.”
The Yankees first two playoff games of the best-of-five format will be on the road.
Game 3 will be at PNC Field on Sept. 10, and games four and five also will be here if necessary.
“It was great to clinch a playoff berth at home,” Miley said. “I’m happy we could do it before our faithful fans.”
NEXT GAME: 7:05 p.m. today at Lehigh Valley
PITCHERS: Yankees RHP David Phelps (3-2, 3.45) vs. IronPigs LHP Brian Mazone (6-13, 3.74).
ON DECK: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre opens a two-game road series at Buffalo on Wednesday.
Jesus Montero was named Yankees Player of the Year and Jonathan Albaladejo won Pitcher of the Year for the 2010 season.
Pitcher Zack Segovia received the Greg Legg Award for sportsmanship.
The three players were honored on the field prior to the start of Sunday’s game against Buffalo.
Montero leads Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with 17 home runs. He came into Sunday’s game batting .286, with 30 doubles, three triples and 61 RBI.
Albaladejo set an International League record with 42 saves. He is currently 4-2, with a 1.44 ERA.
Segovia, is also a relief pitcher. He is 3-2, with a 4.42 ERA and four saves.