The team put on a display of offensive fireworks for the near-sellout crowd as it defeated the Orioles, 11-10, in a game that had no playoff implications.
Winning took a backseat to offense, and though it was a close game, the team never felt the pressure to put it away.
"Late in the game, you sit there and realize it's a two-run game out of nowhere, but it was missing that feel," first baseman Shelley Duncan said. "But it made it a little easier for everybody. It was good for us."
The biggest news in the Yankee clubhouse after the game had nothing to do with the 10-run fourth inning or Andy Pettitte's sluggish outing. Instead the players awaited word on when the team would begin its postseason, and found out it would be Thursday against the Cleveland Indians.
With Boston's win and Cleveland's loss at Kansas City on Saturday night, the Red Sox clinched home-field advantage throughout the 2007 postseason.
The Red Sox also received the choice of opening the ALDS at home on either Wednesday or Thursday. Boston notified Major League Baseball Saturday of its decision to play Game 1 on Wednesday at Fenway Park.
The New York-Cleveland series will open on Thursday at Jacobs Field.
That means that Pettitte will wait six days to make his next start, in Friday's Game 2 of the ALDS. He'll look to put Saturday's outing behind him. He said that the game had a different feel because the team had already clinched, but that he still wanted to have a good outing.
"There's no doubt it's not the same once you have it wrapped up," the lefty said. "But you never want to go out there and get knocked around."
American League Division Series schedule
|Wed., Oct. 3||6:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||3 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||9:30 p.m.||Angel Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||8:30 p.m.||Fenway Park||TBS|
|Thu., Oct. 4||6:30 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Fri., Oct. 5||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|Sun. Oct. 7||6:30 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Mon. Oct. 8||6 p.m.||Yankee Stadium||TBS|
|*Wed. Oct. 10||5 p.m.||Jacobs Field||TBS|
|* If necessary. All times ET.|
Pettitte went five innings and allowed nine runs, eight of which were earned. But because of the Yankee offense, he was still able to pick up his 15th win of the season.
He said he intended to use the outing to fine tune some aspects of his game he felt had been lacking recently, but by doing so neglected the big-picture aspects.
"When you don't get strike one against guys, the plan is kind of shot," he said.
But Pettitte took a back seat to the offense, and during the fourth inning had to leave his seat to keep loose. The Yankees scored 10 runs in the top of the fourth, during which time the pitcher retreated to the clubhouse to play catch with pitcher Sean Henn and stay loose.
The 10-run inning was even more impressive because Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon were all taking the night off. In their place was a group of reserves that shone during the 13-batter inning. The first nine batters all reached base before an out could be recorded.
"We had six runs in Boston before anybody got out, but this was really screwy," manager Joe Torre said.
Torre also jokingly took credit for playing first baseman Shelley Duncan on his birthday. Duncan came through with a single and a home run in the fourth inning. His reaction?
"I have this bad habit of forgetting my birthdays," the 28-year-old said.
Second baseman Robinson Cano finished the game with a double and a single to bump himself up to 99 RBIs on the season, but after the game Torre informed him that he'd be taking Sunday off, leaving him one short of the century mark for the season.
Afterward, the players talked about the rally as if it were a home run derby instead of a baseball game. That's the attitude that prevailed in the clubhouse, and fans were rewarded with an offensive shootout.
Even Pettitte wasn't down on himself after his rough outing. Torre chalked it up to a relaxed mood in the clubhouse, comparing it to a similar showing from closer Mariano Rivera on Friday.
"With the intensity we've been playing with for so long, I think that's natural," he said. "I think Mo was probably in the same boat. It's tough to convince yourself that this is the same."
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.