8/31/2013 12:27 A.M. ET
Girardi stresses playoff implications of homestand
By Josh Vitale / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Yankees entered Friday's game five games back for the second spot in the Wild Card standings and eight games back in the American League East race, but they still have an opportunity to make up ground in their playoff chase.
New York started a critical 10-game home stand on Friday, and seven of those games are against the Orioles -- who are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Yankees in the Wild Card race -- and the AL East-leading Red Sox.
"I know we have to play awfully well to get to where we want," manager Joe Girardi said. "And we have an opportunity to pass teams that are in front of us because we're playing them, but we're going to have to play really good baseball."
In fact, this weekend could play a pivotal role in the Wild Card race for all the teams involved. The Yankees are playing the Orioles, the Wild Card-leading A's are playing the Rays -- who are second in the Wild Card standings -- and the Indians, who are one game ahead of the Yankees in the standings, are playing the AL Central-leading Tigers.
Overall, 10 of the Yankees' remaining 29 games are against teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings.
Girardi predicted earlier that the Yankees would have to win 93 games to make the postseason, because that was the same number of wins that earned the Orioles and Rangers Wild Card spots last year.
The Yankees would have to go 23-6 over their final 29 games to reach that win total this season.
"I think they would have had to be on another planet to not know how important this stretch of games is," Girardi said. "They understand. These guys are used to playing in October, and that's our goal."
Cano returns to lineup, but Nunez sits again
NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano was back in the Yankees lineup Friday after missing Wednesday's game with a bruised left hand, playing second base and batting third against the Orioles.
He bruised the Orioles' pitching staff in his first game back, too, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Cano suffered the injury after getting hit by a pitch from Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ in the first inning of Tuesday's game. Precautionary X-rays taken on Tuesday were negative.
Manager Joe Girardi said before the game that there was a chance Cano could be taken out of the lineup if he didn't get through batting practice without issue. But Cano said he felt good after taking batting practice and his hand didn't seem to be an issue during the game.
"When your team makes a lineup, the last thing you want is missing guys," Cano said before Friday's 8-5 victory over the Orioles. "Hopefully I'll be able to play today and it's just one day [missed]. Good thing it was nothing worse than that."
Infielder Eduardo Nunez was also injured in Tuesday's game, twisting his knee while trying to field a ground ball after replacing Cano at second base. Nunez sat out on Wednesday did not play on Friday, but said he expected to be available for the Yankees if they needed him.
"I think I can play today if they need me," Nunez said. "And help."
Cano is batting .307 with 24 home runs and 87 RBIs this season. Nunez is hitting .248 with one home run, 20 RBIs and eight stolen bases.
Yanks playing the hot hand with Reynolds at first
NEW YORK -- When right-handed-hitting Mark Reynolds first joined the Yankees on Aug. 16, he was put into a platoon at first base with left-handed hitter and incumbent starter Lyle Overbay.
But in Friday's 8-5 victory over the Orioles, Reynolds started against right-hander Miguel Gonzalez and batted seventh, not Overbay. Reynolds has been the more productive hitter recently, and manager Joe Girardi said he wanted to keep the hot hand in the lineup.
Reynolds awarded his manager's confidence on Friday, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run to notch his second consecutive three-hit game.
"He made a little adjustment in his swing, he swung the bat really good the other night and he's swung the bat pretty good for us," Girardi said. "I just kind of see, with the adjustments Mark has made, he can be extremely productive. Because we've seen him get extremely hot. ... That would be huge for us."
Reynolds is batting .316, two home runs and seven RBIs since joining the Yankees two weeks ago, and he went 4-for-8 in two games against the Blue Jays this week.
Overbay is batting just .190 with no home runs and one RBI over the same two-week period -- though he did miss two games against the Rays with flu-like symptoms -- and he was hitless in seven at-bats in Toronto.
"As I told Lyle, I'm just going to see what happens. It doesn't mean that [Overbay] won't play tomorrow, because he very well could be back in there tomorrow," Girardi said.
"But we've seen Mark get really hot, he's swinging the bat well right now and let's just see what happens."
Hughes' next start pushed back to Monday
NEW YORK -- The Yankees announced on Friday that Phil Hughes will have his next start pushed back one day.
Hughes was originally slated to pitch Sunday's series finale against the Orioles, but he will now pitch Monday against the White Sox. Andy Pettitte will start on Sunday.
The right-handed Hughes has struggled throughout the season, compiling a 4-13 record and a 4.91 ERA. He hasn't won a start since July 2, and he's lost 11 of his last 13 decisions.
Hughes was knocked around for five runs -- three earned -- over 4 2/3 innings in a loss against Toronto on Monday. Pettitte, on the other hand, threw seven shutout innings in a win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.