New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi knows his team is running out of time to reach the playoffs.
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.
In addition, catcher Austin Romine was scratched from Tuesday's starting lineup due to a concussion and replaced by Chris Stewart.
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.
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