“I think so. It was just general excitement,” Girardi said. “They’re excited to be going back to the postseason. You have some veteran players in there that have been, but I think they appreciate it more knowing that you don’t know how many more opportunities you have. The young kids, obviously there’s a lot of excitement for them because it’s the first time.”
The Yankees’ 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday guaranteed them at least the second American League Wild Card spot, but they have their sights set upon accomplishing more.
“This is my second postseason in 11 years, so I’m enjoying it,” infielder Chase Headley said. “Obviously, we have more work to be done, but I think any time you have a chance to play in the postseason, you can’t take it for granted. A lot of guys go and play a long time and don’t have this chance.”
Entering Sunday, any combination of two Yankees wins or Twins losses would secure home-field advantage for the Oct. 3 AL Wild Card Game, though the Yanks are not giving up hope of catching the Red Sox in the AL East. Any combination of five Boston wins or Yankees losses would nix the Yankees’ hopes of winning the division.
“Our fate will be determined of when we’re going to play in the next eight games,” Girardi said. “You still want to prepare every day and try to win this division, and then we’ll determine what we do.”
Girardi said that he has started to tinker with his rotation for the remaining games, lining his roster up for the postseason. Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery will pitch the first two games of the upcoming series against the Rays in New York, with Sonny Gray likely to work on Thursday.
“I think you start thinking about it now,” Girardi said. “It’s not the center of my focus right now, but I think trying to make sure that everyone is prepared and everyone is available to help if you do play in the Wild Card Game on [Oct. 3], I think is important. Part of that is when you pitch your starters. Those are decisions that we have to make.”
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said that he believes the Yankees have the ingredients to make some noise in October.
“They’re very young, talented,” Gibbons said. “They’ve got a lot of pop in their lineup. They’ve got some good pieces to go along with it, some speed with [Jacoby] Ellsbury and [Brett] Gardner. They’ve got a good ballclub. They’ve got good starting pitching, and like I said, arguably one of the best bullpens, if not the best. When they get to the playoffs, they can be awfully tough.”