Yankees prepare for final road trip of season

The Yankees rookies dressed up as Star Wars characters for the final road trip. David Phelps was stuck dressed as Princess Leia.

As Derek Jeter was finishing up his brief postgame interview and saying all the right things about the position the Yankees are in, the clubhouse sound system perked up and out came the soundtrack from “Star Wars.”

It was the annual rookie dress-up day, which somehow Jeter avoided in 1995. Following a 5-4 loss to Oakland that featured two prominent errors by fill-in shortstop Eduardo Nunez and a few rallies come up short, the Yankees headed on their final business trip of the regular season to Minnesota and Toronto as a first place team.

“It doesn’t make a difference what they did,” Jeter said. “It’s on us to play as how we’re capable of and win our games.”

“We want to win every game, that’s the bottom line,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We have a chance to win our division. We have a chance to win home-field advantage. It’s a disappointing loss and we just have to move on and prepare for tomorrow.”

After those comments, players and various clubhouse staff whipped out their phones and began taking pictures of the rookies dressed as Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Chewbaccca, Han Solo and Princess Leia.

It was a time of levity the Yankees could afford because of what unfolded in Boston while the Yankees were trying to make an eighth-inning comeback, though they would have enjoyed it regardless of the outcome at Fenway Park.

As Chris Dickerson was stranded in scoring position, Boston closer Andrew Bailey worked out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth. That ensured the Yankee lead would remain at least one game and marked the 22nd straight day that the teams have been within a game of each other since Sept. 3

“We see the scoreboard all year long,” Girardi said. “Do you look at it a little bit more importantly, sure? But I think our guys have been focused. I think you can tell the way we’re playing and what we’re doing and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

“I like the way we’re playing. I mean, it’s better than the alternative, right? I like the way we’re playing; I like the fight in our guys. We come home and have a really good homestand and we’ve gotta carry it over to the road.

Going to Minnesota and Toronto automatically makes some assume that the road could be easier since both teams are well under .500, but even that comes with caution. Minnesota blew out the Tigers, who entered a game out of first place in the AL Central and Toronto damaged Tampa Bay’s playoff aspirations with two close victories in late August after taking two of three in New York.

“I don’t know if it works to our advantage,” Eric Chavez said. “We still got to play the games. We just have to go out and beat the teams we’re supposed to beat.”

Oakland was not necessarily a team the Yankees were supposed to beat and likely needed the game a bit more than the Yankees and the Athletics got it even if they had to sweat it out a bit in the ninth.

Had things gone differently in the ninth when Alex Rodriguez just couldn’t quite get enough on a Grant Balfour fastball or earlier when Nunez made two key errors leading to the final two runs of a nearly four-hour game, the Yankees could have their first two-game lead in three weeks.

Considering how the past two games unfolded, nobody would have been stunned if Rodriguez’s deep drive to the right field warning track carried into the seats and the Yankees eventually won.

“The way things went for us, you never know,” Balfour said.

Instead, moments later, Robinson Cano was called out on strike three and the Yankees headed on their way to more pressing matters such as getting the rookies ready for their Star Wars outfits and the veterans getting into their suits and ties as a first-place team for the 85th straight day.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…


Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…


North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…


Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.


Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."


Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…


3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.


NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.


Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.


Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.


Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…


4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…


Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…