TORONTO -- I'm heading over to the Air Canada Centre for tonight's Sabres-Leafs game but no card-carrying baseball writer can resist a chance to stop in the Yankees' clubhouse on the way, right? The Bombers are here in the Rogers Centre tonight to open a three-game series and their magic number to clinch a playoff berth is down to 1. So here's some of the pregame chatter I collected:
---Manager Joe Girardi on the potential for a postgame celebration even though the Yanks are locked in a tight division race with the Rays: "It would be a nice thing to see. The division is very important to us but I left it up to the players. If they want to celebrate, I'll respect that. They've worked very hard this year and they should do what they want."
---Girardi said the rotation is far from set. He said CC Sabathia is still slated to go tomorrow but I would bet he gets pushed back to Friday in Boston and Dustin Moseley, who was yanked for Phil Hughes on Sunday, would get the call. That would allow Sabathia to be on his normal day and not have too much rest before Game One of the division series. Said Girardi: "Anytime you have a chance to set something up, you'd prefer to set something up. I'm not going to get too far ahead. It seems like everyone wants to get far ahead but I'm not going to. You've got to worry about winning tonight."
---So how did the Red Sox steal four bases in the ninth inning off Mariano Rivera last night? Girardi said his closer was slow to the plate and got locked in some predictable timing. Catcher Jorge Posada said Rivera needs to be quicker and pay attention to runners. What was Rivera's thought?
"They were running. What can I say? They kept running and we didn't get them out," Rivera said. "You don't want them to run, don't let them get on base."
"It's tough. It's frustrating," Posada said. "You want to sail through. It's a 2-1 game but they did a good job with his pitches and distracted him. Mo pays good attention to the running game. It happens. They ran on him. Usually they don't."
---Rivera has blown three saves and has a 9.53 ERA in his last six outings. He worked on some mechanical adjustments today in the bullpen and said he has no health issues.
"It's a new day. I'm a guy that whatever happens, good or bad, it's a new day," Rivera said. "The game will be a new challenge. ... Everybody has bumps and bruises. I'm no different. Everything is good, guys. Don't try to find things. It's all great."
Let the record show he was smiling when he said that. Said Girardi: "It shows Mo's human. Sometimes we don't think he is."
---Posada admitted he was disappointed to not be in the lineup tonight with A.J. Burnett on the mound. Girardi said it's because the Yankees didn't get here until nearly 4 a.m. Still, Posada not working well with Burnett became an issue last postseason and may become one again. Francisco Cervelli will catch.
"I want to be back there. I thought I had a chance today," Posada said. "I'm disappointed to not be back there. But if he has a good game, you have to respect that move."
Off to the Sabres Edge. Who knows? If this one goes long, I might find my way back for the late innings. Quite a double-header.
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