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NEW YORK (AP) — The fans came to their feet one more time, cheering and chanting and pleading for Derek Jeter to deliver one more big hit.
Not this time for Jeter, not this year for the New York Yankees.
Jeter struck out on three pitches with a runner on first to end the game, and the Yankees were pushed to the brink of playoff elimination Tuesday night with a 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
"Every game is must-win," Jeter said.
The Yankees fell five games behind for the second AL wild card with only five games left.
Jeter extended his hitting streak to seven on his last homestand, but took two shaky swings against Orioles closer Zach Britton in the ninth.
"You're thinking that he's going to hit a home run or he's going to hit a ball in the gap, we're going to tie the score," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "But it didn't happen, unfortunately."
Jeter said he heard the crowd noise, but was focused on trying to keep a rally going. Brett Gardner beat out an infield hit with two outs, bringing up Jeter.
"For me, I'm trying to take the approach that I'm trying to play a game," he said. "My approach doesn't change."
Jeter has two more home dates scheduled before he retires. The Yankees then conclude the regular season this weekend in Boston.
And, it looks as though there might be rain when Jeter ends his reign in the Bronx.
The 40-year-old shortstop is set to play his final game at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night against Baltimore. The National Weather Service forecast called for a 70 percent chance of showers during the day, tapering off to 20 percent at night.
"I'm told the weather forecast for Thursday isn't all that bad, and the rain should be out of here. But I am worried about it, and I'll continue to worry about it," Commissioner Bud Selig said at Yankee Stadium before Tuesday night's game.
"The commissioner can control a lot of things, but, damn it, all the weather isn't one of them. But, hopefully — because that's a magnificent day here, and I have great faith in the Yankees they'll somehow get that game in."
Girardi wasn't sure what would happen if Jeter and the Yankees were rained out.
"That's a great question," he said. "I'm sure it would upset a lot of people."
With Jeter's career winding down, he said he hasn't made any decisions about playing the last three regular-season games at Fenway Park.
"I can't think about Boston. I'm thinking about tonight's game, just like I can't think about tomorrow or Thursday," he said before taking on the Orioles. "I just haven't been wired that way, to think that far in advance. I just take it one game at a time. It's a better question for when I get there."
Girardi said that if the Yankees were still in the playoff race, he figured Jeter would be in the lineup every day. If they're eliminated, Girardi said he planned to talk to Jeter "on a daily basis" to see his preferences.
"I'm going to ask him and leave it to him," Girardi said.
Last year, with the Yankees eliminated and going into the final games of the season at Houston, there had been talk that career saves leader Mariano Rivera would fulfill a longtime wish by playing center field.
But coming off a touching scene in which Jeter and teammate Andy Pettitte walked to the mound to pull Rivera from his last appearance at Yankee Stadium, the great closer never played again.
"Mo just kind of wanted it to end that way," Girardi said.
As for Jeter's last game, "I can't really script it," manager said.
"What happened with Mo just came to me at that moment," Girardi said. "Whatever happens, happens."
Yankees: 1B Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup after missing two games because of his ailing right wrist and went 1 for 4. He recently had a third cortisone shot. The oft-injured Teixeira said he plans to take only a week off this winter, rather than a month. "I definitely need to get stronger. Full body, especially the wrist," he said.
In Jeter's next-to-last game scheduled at Yankee Stadium, Orioles RHP Bud Norris (14-8, 3.62 ERA) pitches against RHP Shane Greene (5-3, 3.24). The early start time of 1:05 p.m. is because of Rosh Hashana, which begins at dusk.
ALEX THE WAIT
Selig was at the stadium to present an award to Jeter, and was asked about the possible return of New York third baseman Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod was suspended this season after baseball's Biogenesis investigation.
"He's entitled to come back next year, and that's a situation between him and the New York Yankees," Selig said.
SWING AND A MISS
Yankees pitchers fanned 11 and have now struck out 1,319 this year, breaking the team record set in 2012.
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