On his drive to Citi Field Saturday morning, Brian Cashman seemed to come to terms with his team's long-shot situation regarding the division title.
"Everything we have tried to put together and everything we've talked to our players about is all about trying to be that last team standing," Cashman said shortly after arriving at Citi Field. "And you've got to get yourself in the playoffs."
In other words, while not conceding the AL East to the Blue Jays, the message?
Just get in the tournament.
Which the Yankees, after Saturday's 5-0 victory over the Mets, are in a good position to do, though not through the preferred means of capturing the East.
The win pulled the Yankees within four games of the Blue Jays, scheduled to play the Red Sox later Saturday. More significantly, the Yankees, who start a three-game series in Toronto Monday, opened a 4 ½-game lead in the chase for one of the two wild card spots.
"I guess when we feel the division's not possible," Cashman said of when his focus will turn strictly to the one-game wild card. "I would just say we're in the mode of every day that day's vitally important. We can only control our stuff and then you look at the scoreboard when the night's over and see what else happened out there."
Saturday's glance at day's end showed a still-difficult hill to climb in the division with 15 games to go. And if the Yankees have to go the long road, meaning the wild card, to get in the World Series, so be it.
"There's certain spots in the playoffs you'd prefer to enter," Cashman said. "You want to be the division champs, you want to get that definitive first series that you can qualify for, but it's not the only way to accomplish the dream. The dream isn't supposed to stop at the wild card or division title, it's supposed to be that last team standing."
CC Sabathia, Sunday's scheduled starter against Matt Harvey, isn't giving up on the division either.
"We're still in it, I think we still have a chance to win," he said. "We still have three with Toronto up there next week. It's kind of up to us. Everything's in our lap so those are the seats you want to be in."
But if things play out the way it appears they will, would Cashman call losing out on the division a disappointment? "If we're the world champs," he said, "I don't care how we get in."