Yankees are running out of time

The Yankees' Derek Jeter walks off the field

The Yankees' Derek Jeter walks off the field after their 2-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays in a game in Toronto on Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014. (Credit: AP / Fred Thornhill)

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The Yankees didn't bury themselves with their 3-4 road trip, but they didn't do anything to improve their position, either.

And with the calendar flipping to September on Monday, it's no longer about "winning series," as Joe Girardi likes to say.

They have to do better than that -- meaning a sweep or two or three -- to avoid a second straight dark October.

"You know what's in front of you and you need to win games," said Girardi, whose team starts a nine-game homestand Tuesday night at the Stadium against the Red Sox. "The trip started off well, it didn't end up well and we have to make up for it on our homestand."

The Yankees (70-65), off Monday, picked up a half-game on the AL East-leading Orioles but still trail Baltimore by 8 1/2 games. In the battle for the second wild-card spot, the Yankees and Indians are four games behind the Tigers and 21/2 games behind the Mariners.

"It's tough," Derek Jeter said of the Yankees' situation with 27 games left. "We only have so many series left, we only have so many games left. I don't necessarily look at it as [winning] series because we're not going into series saying we need to win series. We need to win games. We need to win every day that we go out there; that's the approach we need to have."

Jeter, coming off a rough August -- .207 with a .226 on-base percentage -- said the Yankees still control their destiny. That's why he said he doesn't look at the standings.

"We play the teams [ahead of the Yankees]," Jeter said. "I think you look when it's out of your control. Right now, if we win our games, I think we'll be fine."

When a reporter pointed out that the Yankees play the Orioles eight more times and, at that moment, Baltimore held a nine-game lead, Jeter smiled.

"If we win every one of our games . . . ," he said, meaning the rest of the season.

No team, of course, will win its final 27 games this year. To get to 88 victories, which might nab the final wild-card spot, the Yankees would have to go 18-9. A stretch like that would seem to be a long shot, given that they have never been as many as eight games over .500 this year.

Crushing losses like the one the Yankees absorbed Sunday against the Blue Jays don't help. Leading 3-0 with two outs in the sixth, Brandon McCarthy allowed three solo homers in the span of four batters in what became a 4-3 loss.

"When you're chasing [teams], you just need to win as much as you can," McCarthy said. "I don't think it's a hard thing for us to figure out; just the more wins, the better. Losing games like this when we're ahead makes it that much tougher."

Francisco Cervelli, who tripled and hit an RBI single Sunday, pointed to the offense, a problem all season.

"We're battling every game, but you have to score runs, man," he said. "Our pitching staff is doing great. We have to help a little bit more."

Tick tock.

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