"It's a big deal," said starter Mike Mussina, who lasted four and two-thirds innings Sunday and was the losing pitcher. "It was a big deal last year, and we let it get away. When you clinch this early, you've got to find a way to get motivated and stay after it for another week. We've got to win some ballgames and not let it get away from us."
With Sunday's loss, the Yankees fell a half-a-game behind the Tigers for the best record in the league. According to Pete Abraham, Torre told reporters after the game that while home field advantage throughout the post-season is important, it's not worth exhausting his players this week. "I'm not going to beat the hell out of them," he said. This isn't the first time in recent memory that the Yankees have slipped a bit towards the end of September. I don't think it will sperl them for the playoffs.
Gary Sheffield had an adventurous go of it at first base on both Saturday, when he was hand-cuffed by a throw from Johnson, and again on Sunday. More from Kepner:
"Once I go through it and see it once, I'll get it," Sheffield said. He added: "I'm willing to learn. I'm putting the work in and the time, and eventually I'll get it."
Torre said that while Sheffield's footwork could improve, even a more experienced first baseman might have made the same decisions. While saying he had not decided whether to start Sheffield at first in the playoffs, Torre seems confident he could manage it.
"He's got a feel for the game," Torre said. "So I'm not really concerned."
Jason Giambi hopes to return later this week. I think it's safe to say that Torre and the Yankees are not sure yet what their first base/DH plans will be come next week.