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Playoffs atmosphere without the playoffs for Jeter

NEW YORK -- As important as this promises to be on an emotional level for Derek Jeter, Thursday evening will also mark the captain's first Yankee Stadium game this season that won't have playoff implications.

In a most remarkable statistic, Jeter had played just one of his 2,744 previous regular-season games with the Yankees having already been eliminated from postseason contention, and that one occurred on the road.

"I've been fortunate that I haven't had to play too many games like this in my career, but it is what it is," Jeter said. "Our team was not good enough, so we're out of playoff contention. It's always difficult. You set your goals and you try to reach something, and that goal was unattainable."

Manager Joe Girardi said that Jeter played a major role in the fact that the Yanks were able to count on playing meaningful baseball each September.

"That spot is a pretty important spot on a ballclub every year: shortstop, and a guy that hits up in the order," Girardi said. "I think he played a pretty important role, and he was a big part of it."

As for the one previous game with the Yankees out of the chase, it came on Sept. 26, 2008, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park; it was a 19-8 Yanks victory in which Jeter went 0-for-2 before being replaced at shortstop in the third inning by Cody Ransom.

"The one thing that comes to mind the most is that he's a winner," Girardi said. "He believes he can overcome any obstacle that is in his way, he has an extreme amount of mental and physical toughness, and he loves what he does. Those are the things that come to mind when it comes to Derek."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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