Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) and catcher Francisco Cervelli, right,...

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter (2) and catcher Francisco Cervelli, right, talk with closer Mariano Rivera on the mound during the 10th. (Aug. 10, 2010) Credit: AP

TORONTO - Although Mariano Rivera hasn't fretted in public about his recent slump, the 40-year-old closer has been putting in extra time trying to get out of it.

For the second straight day, Rivera was at the ballpark early Tuesday to work with Dave Eiland on an issue with his grip that the pitching coach noticed on video.

Said Joe Girardi: "Sometimes guys just want to do it day after day to make sure they can repeat it when they go on the mound."

Girardi said Rivera's grip has been on the side of the ball, instead of on top, causing him to lack the command and late life in his trademark cutter.

Rivera has blown three saves since Sept. 11, allowing six runs in 5 2/3 innings in the stretch. He got the final two outs in last night's 6-1 win that clinched a playoff spot for the Yankees.

"Nobody wants to go through those times, but it happens," Rivera said. "You just have to face it and move on."

Rivera's approach to the problem doesn't surprise Girardi.

"He's not satisfied," Girardi said. "He's not satisfied with what's happened the last few times out and he's trying to fix it. I love it."

Captain streaking

Derek Jeter has been in a slump much of the season, but after going 2-for-4 last night, he has raised his average to .267. He is in a 15-for-43 stretch, having hit safely in 16 of 17 games. During the last homestand, Jeter worked extensively with hitting coach Kevin Long.

"He's being Derek Jeter," Girardi said. "He made that small adjustment as a hitter . . . and I said all along I wouldn't bet against him. He's hitting the ball harder, getting the ball in the air sometimes. He's not getting jammed nearly as much."

Time to look ahead

Before the game, Girardi said, "No, not yet," when asked if he had a rotation for the weekend in Boston. The win will change that, along with the prep work teams do for the postseason. Those talks, he said, hadn't begun in earnest. "We're not talking about it,'' he said. "You have to get in first. That's our focus."

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