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Yanks' dilemma: Rest for the playoffs or push ahead for division and homefield advantage?

YanksTORONTO -- So the champagne was flying in the visitors' clubhouse (left) late Tuesday night in Rogers Centre after the New York Yankees clinched a playoff berth with their 6-1 win over the Blue Jays but what have the Bronx Bombers really won? Nothing yet. I was surprised by the big party from a team I figured would have had more of a been-there/done-that attitude. Win your division and celebrate, sure. But let loose when you're still a half-game out in the division? You're not the Tampa Bay Rays.

But manager Joe Girardi has been talking out of both sides of his mouth all month and the players seem confused as ever. By his bizarre bullpen choices, Girardi looked to be coasting home. Then the Red Sox got hot, the Yankees were stumbling, Phil Hughes was thrust back into the rotation and CC Sabathia pitched Tuesday when he could have waited until Friday and been on his normal turn for Game One of the division series.

Now the Yankees have no idea how Sabathia will be pitching on seven or eight days rest. And do they keep the veterans going to win the division? Girardi made it clear that all of his infielders are candidates to sit out tonight, allowing them to stay off the hard turf here for a night and get an extra day off Thursday in Boston.

"I want to play," said first baseman Mark Teixeira. "I want to win this division. Some of it is not in our hands. Joe is going to make the decisions he needs to make. At the same time, we go out every single night trying to win. The last four games, that's what we're going to try to do."

"I always want to play," added Derek Jeter. "But I don't know what the plans are."

Jeter was then asked if he would benefit from a couple days off. His answer was quick.

"We got Thursday off, don't we? There you go."

Girardi said after the game Andy Pettitte won't pitch tonight (Javier Vazquez will). So once and for all, does he want to win the division or not? 

"I'll talk to the guys tomorrow and see how they feel," Girardi said. "There's got to be some tired bodies out there. I gotta make sure our guys are strong. That's the first thing. I still want our division. I still want homefield advantage. I can see there's some tired bodies. ... It's something I've got to think about tonight."

---Mike Harrington


(AP Photo: From left, Francisco Cervelli, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames whoop it up in the Yankees' clubhouse.) 


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About Inside Pitch

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has covered the Buffalo Bisons since 1992 and Major League Baseball since 1995. A member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, Harrington has reported on more than 30 MLB postseason series — including every game of the World Series in this century — and all three of the Bisons' championship runs in their modern era. He is a connoisseur of the famous Stadium Mustard at Cleveland's Progressive Field.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has covered the Bisons for The Buffalo News since 2002. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |