Jeter focused on present, not playoffs
September, 21, 2011
By Ian Begley | ESPNNewYork.com
But Derek Jeter isn't worried about any of that.
In typical Jeter fashion, the Yankees captain insisted after Tuesday's game that his sole focus is on the next game at hand -- in this case, the Yankees' Wednesday afternoon tilt against Tampa.
"I'm not worried about that," Jeter said when asked about the Yankees' magic number. "We need to win our games. The teams that are closest to us, we play. So I'm not watching the scoreboard. It really doesn't make a difference because we're in a position now where if we win then we'll be where we want to be so we need to continue to play well."
If the Yankees beat Tampa on Wednesday in either game of their doubleheader, they will have clinched a playoff spot.
Going into Tuesday, the Yankees' magic number to clinch the AL East crown was five. The win over Tampa knocked it down to four. The Red Sox lost to the Orioles later on Tuesday, meaning the Yankees will need either three wins or three Red Sox losses, or any combination of the two, to clinch the division.
"That's a step," manager Joe Girardi said. "We need to continue to play good baseball because our goal is to win the division and get home-field advantage and take it from there."
CAPTAIN'S CLIMBING: Jeter's two hits on Tuesday gave him sole possession of 19th place on baseball's all-time hits list, passing Cap Anson. Jeter needs 28 hits to catch Dave Winfield, who is 18th on the list with 3,110 hits. Jeter has hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games.
GRAND OPENING: Curtis Granderson is batting .355 over his last eight games since last Sunday. Five of his last six hits have gone for extra bases. Granderson got the Yankees on the board with a bases-loaded, three-run double in the second. He then added a run-scoring infield single in the fifth.
He has 119 RBIs, three ahead of Boston's Adrian Gonzalez as of late Tuesday night. He is one home run behind Toronto's Jose Bautista, making the AL MVP race all the more interesting. Justin Verlander, Gonzalez, Bautista, Jacoby Ellsbury and Granderson are considered the top contenders for the award.