New York entered play on Monday with a magic number of one to become baseball's first club this season to secure a playoff spot, needing a win or a Rangers loss to clinch. But there was nothing on ice in the visitors' clubhouse, and the Yankees will treat the evening like business as usual.
"Our goal is to win the division," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "That's the first step. Our goal is still out there, and it's attainable."
Jeter said that he is "sure it will be acknowledged" in the clubhouse if the Yankees beat the Angels to clinch a playoff spot, or if the Athletics dispatch the Rangers up the coast in Oakland.
But with the Yankees' lead over the Red Sox in the American League East trimmed to five games, New York's postgame actions would probably be more along the lines of exchanging handshakes than engaging in a full-blown party atmosphere.
"That would be your first step of the goals that we have set, trying to get into the playoffs," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "By no means does that mean our work is complete for the season. We still have a lot of work to do."
In 2007, the Yankees sprayed bubbly all over the walls of the visitors' clubhouse at Tropicana Field to celebrate their entry as the AL Wild Card winner, but that came after the Red Sox had already locked up the division.
New York did not celebrate at all last season, missing the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Girardi said that there was "a bad taste last September" that is soon to be flushed, but if it happens on Monday, he suggested it would be more by water or Gatorade than with Champagne.
"'Almost' doesn't make you feel good," Jeter said. "When you get something done, you feel good about it. But I've never been one to celebrate something before it happens.
"You don't assume that something's going to happen. It feels good to be in this position, but we still haven't accomplished anything yet."
New York's magic number to win the AL East was nine games entering play on Monday, and the general consensus was that if there is one party the club would like to throw, that would be the event for it.
"I would say we'll wait," Nick Swisher said. "You don't settle. This organization has been built on excellence forever, so I would say that's probably the universal answer."
Owning their smallest division lead since Aug. 7, the Yankees have been steadfast that they must handle business in Anaheim and not hope for outside help from the Royals, who host the Red Sox in a four-game series this week, heading into this weekend's showdown with the Red Sox in the Bronx.
"The only time you feel comfortable is when you have that 'X' next to your name," Girardi said. "We do not have that. We have a very difficult week, and it starts here tonight."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less