"I like it that way," said catcher Russell Martin. "Keep the juices flowing."
It was that way for most of the past month, with a stretch of 16 games in 15 days to close the season giving way to a three-day break before the ALDS. The Orioles occupied the Yankees' minds for the entirety of that time, pulling into a tie for first place in the AL East on Sept. 4, then battling for the division title until Game 162 and for the right to advance and face Detroit on Saturday until Game 5.
It offered New York little time to think ahead, only enough to take notice of Miguel Cabrera's Triple Crown.
"Everybody knows the great season he's had," Curtis Granderson said, "but this isn't the first time he's had a great season. He's been great his whole career, and as soon as he got to the Tigers, he never stopped."
Granderson knows firsthand from the two seasons he spent with Cabrera in Detroit, but so do the rest of the Yankees, who saw their season end against Detroit in a five-game ALDS last year, before the Tigers lost to the Rangers in six games of the ALCS.
Derek Jeter says revenge means nothing. So did Game 1 starter Andy Pettitte, whose only role last season was to throw out the ceremonial first pitch as a then-retired Yankee before Game 2 against Detroit.
But Martin and his more forthcoming teammates admit they have not forgotten.
"We get to get our revenge," Martin said. "I'm excited about that."
The Yankees won the season series, 6-4, this year, outscoring Detroit, 58-48. The teams played a three-game set at home in April and seven games in Detroit between June and August.
Granderson was at the heart of New York's success, going 11-for-43 with 11 runs, 12 RBIs and four homers in the 10 games against his former club, and he showed his first sign of life this postseason with a single and homer in Game 5 against Baltimore.
"There's been good and bad parts against them. I know they're going to be very educated, understanding what they have to do to be successful against our offense," Granderson said. "You can't take what's happened in April, June, whenever you faced them. You have to get ready to face them this series."
This is a different Tiger lineup than last year, having lost Victor Martinez to injury before the season started, but providing a more powerful bat to protect Cabrera in the lineup with Prince Fielder. The duo, which Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira calls "probably the best three-four combo in all of baseball," combined for eight home runs and 18 RBIs in their 10 games against New York this season.
They were relatively quiet in their five-game ALDS win against the A's, though, driving in just three of Detroit's runs with only Fielder going deep -- offering numbers similar to those of New York's sluggers.
But they clinched on Thursday in Oakland and boarded a plane for New York sometime Friday night as the carpet in the home clubhouse at Yankee Stadium began to dry. The Yankees have no day off, but they can finally erase the Orioles from their mind, and they want to believe that's a good thing.
"You take a nap," Granderson said. "You don't get a chance to rest really. That's a good thing."