The Yankees have been anemic offensively during a four-game skid they hope to end Wednesday night on the road against the Toronto Blue Jays.
New York (79-72) fell 2-0 in Tuesday's opener of this three-game set. The Yankees are 3 1/2 games behind Texas and Tampa Bay, who are tied for the AL's wild-card spots, and must also overtake Cleveland and Baltimore."We're getting to where we can't lose much more," Girardi said.
This untimely swoon has seen New York total seven runs while batting .167 with 28 strikeouts. Alex Rodriguez is 1 for 12 with four strikeouts, Ichiro Suzuki is 2 for 15 and Curtis Granderson 3 for 16 during this span, while Robinson Cano has one hit in his last 12 at-bats.
Rodriguez returned to the lineup after leaving Sunday's loss at Boston in the fifth inning with a strained right calf. He's also dealing with a sore left hamstring suffered Sept. 10 versus the Orioles. Rodriguez, who will likely serve as the DH throughout this series, went 0 for 4 and struck out looking twice.
Girardi said Rodriguez came through the game "OK."
"He never said anything," Girardi said.
Colby Rasmus homered in his third straight game for Toronto (69-81), as he returned after sitting out Sunday's loss to Baltimore with general soreness. The Blue Jays, playing without injured sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista , won for the second time in seven games.
Girardi will give Phil Hughes (4-13, 5.07 ERA) the start, but that may not mean much. Hughes returned to the rotation last Thursday in Baltimore after he was bypassed in favor of David Huff the previous time his turn came up.
The right-hander, however, was pulled after allowing one run in three innings in a 50-pitch effort to make way for the left-hander Huff, who went the next three innings. Neither has pitched since that 6-5 victory.
Hughes is 0-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three starts against the Blue Jays this year while Huff has thrown 8 1-3 scoreless innings over two appearances in 2013, with his lone start against Toronto coming as a rookie in 2009.
The Blue Jays have lost six straight home starts by J.A. Happ (4-6, 5.15), who is 0-5 with a 5.83 ERA in that span. The left-hander is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts against the Yankees this year, with Alfonso Soriano homering twice off him.
Happ has failed to get through the sixth inning in six straight outings, allowing four runs in 4 1-3 innings in last Thursday's 4-3 home defeat to the Angels.
"I'm just trying to prove to myself more than anything," Happ told the Blue Jays' official website. "We have egos, you want to have success and you want to keep the team in the game and you want to have respect."
Yankees slugger Mark Reynolds , mired in a 2-for-19 slump, is hitless in 13 at-bats versus Happ.
|New York Yankees|
|September 14, 2013||Alfonso Soriano||Day-to-Day||Sprained right thumb|
|September 12, 2013||Brett Gardner||Day-to-Day||Left game - Oblique|
|September 08, 2013||Derek Jeter||60-Day DL||Left ankle soreness|
|September 08, 2013||Chris Stewart||Day-to-Day||Left game - left foot contusion|
|September 07, 2013||Vidal Nuno||60-Day DL||Strained left groin|
|September 07, 2013||Derek Jeter||Day-to-Day||Left ankle|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|September 17, 2013||Edwin Encarnacion||Day-to-Day||Left wrist surgery - out for season|
|September 13, 2013||Brett Cecil||15-Day DL||Left elbow discomfort|
|September 08, 2013||Moises Sierra||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|August 21, 2013||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left hip bone bruise - out for season|
|August 21, 2013||Maicer Izturis||60-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|August 20, 2013||Maicer Izturis||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained left ankle|
TORONTO (AP) -- Six outs away from a second straight shutout loss, the New York Yankees gave their diminishing playoff hopes a big boost.
Vernon Wells had a go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning, Mariano Rivera earned a four-out save and the Yankees rallied from three runs down to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 Wednesday night, snapping a four-game skid.
"We hadn't shaken hands for a while, so it was kind of nice," manager Joe Girardi said.
Robinson Cano drove in the Yankees' first run in this three-game series with a one-out single in the eighth. Alfonso Soriano followed with an RBI double, helping New York avoid falling further behind in the AL wild-card race.
"Tonight was a big game for us," Rivera said. "Being down 3-0 in the eighth inning and coming back to score four and being able to hold it, it's a huge game, huge."
New York is 2 1/2 games behind Texas for the second wild card. The Yankees have 10 games remaining. The Rays beat Rangers 4-3 in 12 innings.
"There's still a long way to go, but it's a lot better feeling in this clubhouse than it's been for a while," Girardi said.
David Huff (3-1) pitched 3 2-3 innings of relief of Phil Hughes to earn the win.
"All these games are huge," Huff said. "We need to continue it, we need to keep getting after it and keep winning. There are no more little bumps in the road, it's get it done or go home."
Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 4 with a walk as the Yankees improved to 8-2 this season following a shutout loss. New York, which lost 2-0 Tuesday, has gone 34-11 following shutout defeats since Girardi took over as manager before the 2008 season.
Colby Rasmus homered for the fourth straight game and Ryan Goins hit his first career homer but the Blue Jays couldn't hold on to a 3-0 lead, losing for the sixth time in eight games.
Goins' homer was the only hit allowed by Huff, who came on after Rasmus connected off Hughes in the fourth.
David Robertson got two outs in the eighth and Rivera finished it off for his 44th save in 51 chances. Rivera entered to a standing ovation from the crowd of 24,247.
"I don't think there's any arguing who the greatest relief pitcher of all time is and that's what I went with," Girardi said.
Still, it wasn't easy for Rivera. Adam Lind singled to begin the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Kevin Pillar , who went to second when Rasmus followed with a base hit. Pillar was forced at third on pinch-hitter Munenori Kawasaki 's attempted sacrifice, Goins grounded out and Rivera fanned J.P. Arencibia on three pitches to leave runners at second and third.
"Every time you win, it's a great feeling," Rivera said. "Hopefully we come back tomorrow and wrap it up."
Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ matched a season-high by pitching seven innings but was denied his second win in three starts when the Yankees rallied in the eighth.
Aaron Loup replaced Happ after Brendan Ryan doubled to begin the inning but left after giving up a single to Curtis Granderson . Steve Delabar (5-5) came on and struck out Rodriguez, then gave up an RBI single to Cano, New York's first run in 16 innings. Soriano hit an RBI double and Wells followed with a two-run double.
"That's what we're capable of doing," Wells said. "We just haven't been able to do that lately. We needed a win, things have been ugly over the last few days."
Happ allowed one run and four hits in seven-plus innings. He walked two and struck out a season-high seven.
"We (threw) it away but he's got to feel good about that outing," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Delabar said he felt bad about ruining Happ's stong outing.
"To come in and not get the job done, it's a slap in the face," Delabar said. "Couldn't feel worse."
Rasmus hit a two-run shot into the second deck off Hughes in the fourth, his 22nd of the season. One out later, Goins drilled a solo shot off Huff.
Rasmus has homered in four straight games since being activated off the 15-day disabled list before Friday's game against Baltimore. He hit a solo home run in Tuesday's 2-0 win.
Hughes, who has not won since July 2 at Minnesota, allowed two runs and four hits in 3 1-3 innings. He walked none and struck out two.
NOTES: The Blue Jays are 4-14 against the Yankees this season. ... Murphy started at catcher for the Yankees, with Chris Stewart getting the day off. ... Yankees LHP Boone Logan (elbow) threw a bullpen session before the game and could return Friday when New York hosts San Francisco.