Yankees close season with win
Offense wraps Camden Yards assault in playoff tuneup
BALTIMORE -- On the 162nd day, there was rest.
After an emotionally draining season, the Yankees took a more relaxed approach Sunday as the team's stars took their final bow in a 10-4 victory against the Orioles.
"The guys have played a lot of innings -- a lot of stressful innings -- in the second half of the year," third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "It's good to get your mind and body rested."
It was the team's final game before Thursday's playoff opener against Cleveland. Rodriguez received the loudest ovation from the Yankees fans in Baltimore when he was removed from the game in the fourth inning, but inside the dugout the biggest cheers went to Bobby Abreu, who picked up his 100th RBI of the season in the fourth inning.
It was a milestone he had been chasing for the entire month, and Torre thought it showed.
"I was surprised he got a walk his first time up, because he was swinging at everything," the manager said with a laugh.
Abreu's quest had been picked up by the team, and the day's honorary manager, catcher Jorge Posada, was waiting with his team to congratulate Abreu in the dugout.
"When he got it, it was like a load came off for all of us," Posada said. "I can only imagine what he felt like."
Abreu hit the milestone four times with the Phillies, but he said this year was special because he battled through a rough first half of the season. At the end of May, the right fielder was hitting .228. Like the team, he went on a second-half tear to boost his numbers.
But as he approached 100 RBIs, things slowed down. He stalled at 98, picking up just one in the past 11 games before Sunday.
"I've been looking for that for a long time," he said. "I never gave up."
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.|
His attitude mirrors that of the Yankees, who were able to reward themselves with the day off after clinching a playoff berth against Tampa Bay earlier in the week.
It also allowed Posada to have more fun in the guest manager role, a tradition Torre annually bestows upon one of his veteran players. The catcher drew a big ovation when he went to the mound to make a pitching change in the seventh inning.
When he wasn't consulting with Posada, Torre took the opportunity to chat with Chien-Ming Wang on the bench, which the manager jokingly described as "boring."
Posada picked Andy Pettitte as his bench coach, although the pitcher may not have understood the demands of the role -- he went back into the clubhouse to eat a sandwich midway through the game.
But while veterans like Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon sat out, the younger players were able to make one last impression for the season. On the mound, Chase Wright picked up the win to move to 2-0, and rookie reliever Joba Chamberlain pitched against one batter in the seventh inning to get ready for the postseason.
"It's going to be a new experience," Chamberlain said. "I don't know what's going to happen, but everything is going well right now."
Rodriguez was also able to continue his season-long streak of things going well. He finished his outstanding 2007 campaign with a 2-for-2 day that included a walk and his 156th RBI.
"To have the numbers he put up is more than amazing," manager Joe Torre said. "He's had about as complete of an MVP season as you can find, as far as I'm concerned."
The Yankees batted around the order in the fourth inning for the second consecutive day, scoring four runs and following it up with another three in the fifth.
But the result took a backseat to having a good time, and Posada was leading the charge.
"I was enjoying it," he said of his managerial duties. "So far, I'm 1-0."
Michael Phillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.