DETROIT -- They stood, a crowd of 42,647 strong, as Derek Jeter stepped into the batter's box on Thursday for his final regular-season at-bat in the state of Michigan. Joba Chamberlain stepped off the mound, permitting those cheers a few extra moments of life.
It was a snapshot moment for the Yankees' captain, but spoiled by the fact that Jeter grounded out on the sixth pitch of the at-bat, then walked off the diamond in the next half-inning as Alex Avila's RBI single gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory at Comerica Park.
The loss bumped the Yankees three games behind the Tigers and Mariners for the second American League Wild Card spot. A dark October was never on Jeter's agenda, and the 40-year-old continues to have faith that the Yankees can win the necessary games to participate in the postseason.
"When you play the teams that are ahead of you, you don't have to look at the scoreboard," Jeter said. "We play our division, so we need to have the approach that we have to win every day. What do we have, 30 games left? You can't sit around and look at the scoreboard. It's in our own hands, so we need to win."
The loss also moved the Yankees 6 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East, although Jeter said that he has not given up hope of catching Baltimore.
"It's always the goal, you know what I mean?" Jeter said. "Until something else happens and you have to alter your goals, that's the goal. But once again, we play our division, so if we win our games we'll be fine. I don't ever think you set your sights on something less than you can accomplish, so our goal is to win games. We need to win tomorrow."