Even though the second wild card is the Yankees most obvious and attainable path to the playoffs, it surely comes as little surprise that Derek Jeter is not ready to give up on the division just yet.
“It’s always the goal, you know what I mean?” Jeter said after yesterday’s loss. “Until something else happens and you have to alter your goals, that’s the goal. But once again, we play (within) our division, so if we win our games, we’ll be fine. I don’t ever think you set your sights on something unless than you can accomplish it, so our goal is to win games. We need to win tomorrow.”
Jeter always seems to have his eye on the bigger picture while focusing on the smaller tasks at hand. Win the division. And do it by winning tonight’s game. And then tomorrow’s game. And the game after that.
“Like I always tell you, when you play the teams that are ahead of you, you don’t have to look at the scoreboard,” Jeter said. “We play our division, so we need to have the approach that we have to win every day. What do we have, 30 games left? You can’t sit around and look at the scoreboard. It’s in our own hands, so we need to win.”
That’s largely true. But the fact is, the Yankees aren’t going to play winning baseball every game the rest of the way. They’re likely going to need some help along the way, whether that’s in the form of another playoff contender stumbling down the stretch, or a few teams making mistakes that hand the Yankees an undeserved win or two.
Just last night, the Yankees hit the ball hard, but had few hits to show for it. They nearly got a huge home run in the ninth, but it was blown foul. Shawn Kelley pitched himself to the verge of a great escape, then made his final mistake. Did the Yankees earn a win yesterday? Obviously not. But if a few small things had bounced a different way, they might have gotten a win just the same.
“You saw what happened (Wednesday),” Brett Gardner said. “We had nine straight hits off (David) Price. Something’s got to go your way for that to happen. That’s why we play 162 games instead of 100. I feel like it all works itself out in the end. Hopefully in the end we’re still standing.”
That’s the big picture hope. The smaller task at hand is tonight’s game in Toronto, just another in a string of “must win” games for a team with very little margin for error.
“We’ve got to turn the page and go and put up a win (tonight),” Joe Girardi said. “You’ve got to take it day by day. It’s definitely not what we wanted (in Detroit), but our guys played hard, played extremely hard this series, and we’ve got to go continue on to Toronto.”
Associated Press photo