NEW YORK -- Early Wednesday morning, just past midnight, Yankees manager Joe Girardi delivered a last-ditch message to his team. He kept his thoughts simple and precise.
Immediately after the Yankees' 10-3 loss to the Texas Rangers that put them on the cusp of elimination, Girardi basically told his club to just focus on one game and one game only.
The Yankees can't win three in a row during Wednesday's Game 5. They can only lean on the oldest cliché in the sports book: One game at a time.
"Win today, period," closer Mariano Rivera said of Girardi's words. "Just win today and don't think about tomorrow."
The experienced Yankees enter Game 5 with their top starter, CC Sabathia, on the mound. They are down 3-1 in the ALCS, knowing that even if they can force the series south to Texas for a Game 6 that their nemesis, Cliff Lee, will be rested and ready in a Game 7.
Girardi doesn't think his club will look ahead.
"I think our guys will be ready to play today," Girardi said.
Girardi said he is not worried about the mood of his clubhouse. He thinks they have the right mindset to do what seems improbable at the moment -- win three in a row from Texas.
"It's always upbeat," Girardi said of the clubhouse. "And that comes with experience and understanding what you have to do. In a situation or tough games, you have to be yourself."
At the team pep talk, immediately after the Game 4 loss, Rivera said that no players spoke, just Girardi. Rivera, one of the veteran leaders on the Yankees, said the message that he wanted others on the club to understand was simple.
"We are 3-1 down, yes, but still, still, we haven't lost yet," Rivera said. "So with that in mind, we just have to play one game at a time. We cannot win three games in one shot. I hope we can do that, but it's impossible. So the message is that we just play hard today, and forget about tomorrow. Let's focus on what we have to do today. And if we do that, I think the team that we have is enough to win today."
Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.