NEW YORK (AP) -- Derek Jeter showed little emotion after falling
short in his quest to win the AL batting crown.
It was on to more important things -- the playoffs."Everyone would love to win a batting title," Jeter said
Sunday after going 1-for-5 in the New York Yankees' 7-5 loss to the
Toronto Blue Jays and failing to overtake Minnesota's Joe Mauer."We've got bigger and better things starting on Tuesday, so
that's our main focus."New York, which clinched the AL East title on Sept. 20, faces
the wild-card Detroit Tigers in the first round of the playoffs
beginning Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. Chien-Ming Wang will
pitch for the Yankees in Game 1 against Nate Robertson.
Playoff appearances of 2006 teams
Jeter singled in his first at-bat and moved .0005 behind Mauer.
But the Yankees' captain took a called third strike in the second
inning, hit an RBI groundout in the fourth, grounded out again in
the sixth and struck out in the eighth.After Jeter went to shortstop for the ninth, acting manager
Bernie Williams sent Andy Cannizaro out to replace him, and Jeter
walked off to a standing ovation."It was Joe's idea to have him pull out after everybody had
their warmup pitches and warmup throws," Williams said. "Just to
let the fans acknowledge him as he deserves."Following his tradition of letting veterans manage on the final
day if nothing is at stake, Joe Torre put Williams in charge."I've always been a fan of Bernie's," Toronto manager John
Gibbons said. "One thing here is they always take care of all
great players. It was appropriate he got the hit, too."The importance of winning the batting title wasn't lost on
Williams, who was the last Yankees player to win the crown in 1998,
when he hit .339."I was getting up-to-the-minute news from the coaches,"
Williams said. "We were pretty much aware of the situation and
trying to give Derek and Robinson [Cano] the best opportunities
that we could."Cano, who was third in the league in hitting, went 2-for-4 to
finish at .342.Williams pinch-hit himself at the urging of Torre to a standing
ovation in the bottom of the ninth and doubled."That was as bizarre as I've ever seen in baseball," Williams
said with a smile. "I was so glad I was able to get on base."Jeter had a different take on Williams' managerial debut."He lost! He lost," Jeter said, ribbing his teammate. "It was
kind of selfish pinch-hitting himself there."With the game tied 5-5 in the ninth, Adam Lind hit a two-run,
two-out homer off Kyle Farnsworth (3-6).Josh Towers (2-10) gave up two hits and a run in four innings
for the victory. Scott Downs got three outs for his first save.
Toronto finished second in the AL East at 87-75, ending a run of
eight straight second-place finishes by Boston.New York won its ninth consecutive division title and finished
tied with the New York Mets for the best record in the major
leagues at 97-65. It is the first time New York teams topped both
leagues since 1956, when the Yankees won the AL at 97-57 and the
Brooklyn Dodgers led the NL at 93-61.Jeter entered the final day of the season with a chance to win
the batting crown for the second time in his career. In 2003, Jeter
started the last day one percentage point behind Boston's Bill Mueller and went 0-for-3. He finished at .324, two points behind
Mueller and one back of Manny Ramirez."I've been in this position before," Jeter said. "It doesn't
take away from what I've done this season."Jaret Wright wasn't sharp in his final tuneup before the
postseason, giving up four runs and eight hits in five innings.Jorge Posada's 23rd homer, a two-run shot in the fourth off
Jeremy Accardo, tied the game 4-all.
New York LHP Randy Johnson was optimistic after a bullpen
session that he will start Game 3 of the playoffs Friday night.
Johnson threw 41 pitches Sunday under the watchful eye of Torre,
pitching coach Ron Guidry and bullpen coach Joe Kerrigan. "It was
surprisingly good," Johnson said. "Everybody was more pleased
than I was, so I guess that's a good thing. My only concern is a
stiff back." ... Mike Mussina acted as Williams' pitching coach
and Alex Rodriguez was the hitting coach for the game. ... The Blue
Jays finished better than third place for the first time since
winning the 1993 World Series.