Mike Mussina had a new role with the Yankees. Instead of preparing to start the regular season finale against Boston, he was in the visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park, taping plastic over lockers to protect them from champagne.

Mussina's next appearance will be in Game 1 of the AL playoffs.

The Red Sox hope Jaret Wright flops today as Mussina's replacement. The Yankees made the switch after clinching their eighth consecutive AL East title yesterday with an 8-4 win over Boston.

"It's not easier," David Ortiz said. "When you take anything for granted in this game, the game comes and eats you up."

The Red Sox lost their chance to win the division but have several ways to get the wild card and maintain their hopes of a second straight World Series championship.

Curt Schilling will start today for the Red Sox. He might not have to pitch against the Yankees' top lineup as some regulars may rest.

"It turns into two and three because you rest Monday and start again on Tuesday," Jason Giambi said. "That's huge."

Gary Sheffield wants no part of that: "I'm playing every day. I still want to win."

If the Red Sox win the wild card, they would start the AL division series Tuesday in Chicago. The Yankees were waiting for their first-round foe to be determined: Cleveland or the Los Angeles Angels.

* LOWERING THE MARK: Indians RHP Kevin Millwood (2.86) has a 0.06 lead over Minnesota's Johan Santana (2.92) for the league ERA title. Millwood has a chance to become the first champ to have a losing record since Cleveland's Stan Coveleski in 1923. Santana will start today against Detroit.

* PITCHING PROSPECTS: The White Sox' final postseason roster will come down to either rookie RHP Brandon McCarthy or RHP Orlando Hernandez as the club's long reliever. "The question is: Do you go with the guy that has the experience and has not pitched much recently," White Sox GM Ken Williams said. "Or do you go with the young guy, who might be less equipped to deal with the stage but has been lights out?"

* CENTURY MARK: The Royals have had three 100-loss seasons in the last four years.

-- From News Services

New York Yankees pitcher Jaret Wright hopes to bring the Red Sox to their knees as Boston continues to fight for the wild-card berth.