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Girardi stresses playoff implications of homestand

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."

Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for
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