Jeter comes up short as Blue Jays seal second place in AL EastOct 1, 2006 - 8:37 PM BRONX, New York (Ticker) -- Not only did the Toronto Blue Jays deny Derek Jeter the American League batting title, they also earned a rare second-place finish in the AL East Division.
Watching from the dugout after recording a hit in five at-bats, Jeter saw rookie Adam Lind hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Blue Jays to a 7-5 victory over the New York Yankees in the season finale for both teams.
Jeter entered the regular-season finale with a .345 batting average - just one point behind Minnesota's Joe Mauer. He singled in the first inning to briefly move into a tie with the outstanding catcher.
However, the AL MVP candidate struck out in the second, had an RBI groundout in the fourth and added another groundout and strikeout in his final two at-bats. That dropped his batting average to .343 - five points behind Mauer, who had two hits in his four at-bats Sunday.
"I was getting up to the minute news from Maz (Lee Mazilli) and all the coaches," New York acting manager Bernie Williams said. "We were pretty much aware of the situation and trying to give Derek and Robinson (Cano) the best opportunities that we could to get them to do that."
But the Yankees captain deflected any attention to personal statistics and turned his focus on the postseason. New York will host Game One of the American League Division Series against Detroit, which failed to win the AL Central after getting swept in a three-game series by Kansas City.
"Everyone would love to win a batting title," Jeter said. "But we've got bigger and better things starting on Tuesday so that's our main focus."
With no chance at the batting title, Williams lifted Jeter in the top of the ninth for Andy Canizzaro. Jeter exited to a standing ovation and then watched as the rookie Lind hit a 1-2 offering from Kyle Farnsworth (3-6) over the center field fence for his second career home run.
Lind, the Eastern League MVP, gave Toronto its first showing above third place since 1993, when the club won its second straight World Series title. The Blue Jays (87-75), who finished with their highest win total since 1998, won 18 of their last 28 games to pass the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
"Either way, I feel good about the season," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But you always want to go out a winner. It was an exciting game, it was tied and the young kid came through at the end."
"It hasn't really sunk in yet," Lind said. "It was just a home run. I don't know, maybe when I get home and see the Yankees in the playoffs and tell people that I'm watching the game with that I hit over that wall."
Josh Towers (2-10), who began the season in Toronto's rotation, allowed a run and struck out five in four innings for the relief victory. Scott Downs worked around a hit in the ninth for his first save in four opportunities this season.
Williams, who may be playing his last regular-season game for the Yankees, inserted himself as a pinch hitter for Miguel Cairo and doubled to right-center field in the ninth. But Williams was stranded as Andy Phillips struck out.
"Everything started sinking in," Williams said. "The fans' reaction was just incredible. I was able to sit back and enjoy it."
"I've always been a fan of Bernie's," Gibbons said. "One thing here is they take care of all great players. Anything happens, they (the fans) root him on. They're tough on him too but they make you a hero too. It was appropriate he got the hit too."
Williams continued a tradition of players managing on the final game of the season when the Yankees have locked up a playoff spot. He was eagerly anticipating managing when he discussed it before the game and made numerous substitutions throughout.
"Right now it's too much fun," Williams said. "I'm the manager for the day. If there's any day I could take to think back and enjoy and to savor this moment, this has to be one of them. My focus is to win the game today and think about everything else tomorrow."
Lind finished with two hits and three RBI and Alex Rios added three hits and drove in a run for the Blue Jays.
Jorge Posada hit a two-run homer in the fourth for the Yankees (97-65), who finished with at least 95 wins for the sixth straight season.
Cano finished third in the batting race at .342, after going 2-for-4 to completed his second season in the majors with a 13-game hitting streak.
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