DETROIT -- The Yankees have eyed their diminishing advantage in the American League East with some concern, entering play on Wednesday just 4 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles -- their smallest lead since June 29.
Manager Joe Girardi does not dispute the suggestion that the team has not played well and needs to perform better, but he also can't shake the feeling that his club has seemed close to breaking through.
"I don't think our guys are complacent," Girardi said. "You saw the fight in our guys in the ninth inning last night. I don't think there's complacency here. Sometimes you get that one hit that makes a difference, and sometimes you don't, but you come prepared every day. I think our guys are prepared every day, they work hard every day and they play hard every day. You do the best you can."
Girardi said there is not one glaring inefficiency that the Yankees need to fix at this time -- pointing to the offense, pitching, and particularly shutdown innings or clutch hits.
"You think, golly, you're one hit here or there away from having four or five wins," Girardi said. "You're talking about five hits and you might have four or five wins more, and we're not talking about this. But [despite] the fact that we haven't gotten those, we've been in most games. We're not getting blown out. I think I'd be more concerned if we were getting hammered."
A-Rod confident Yanks will improve in his absence
DETROIT -- It is true, as Eric Chavez said after Tuesday's 6-5 loss to the Tigers, that the Yankees have been fighting through their share of trouble since losing Alex Rodriguez to a fractured left hand on July 25.
But the Yankees third baseman has been watching his team closely during this recent stretch, in which it has lost seven of 12 games without his bat in the lineup, and thinks the club can rebound from its funk.
"I think we've run into teams in the American League that are playing very, very well," Rodriguez said. "In order to beat those teams, you've got to play almost flawless baseball. We ran into some good pitching. I think we'll be fine. I think you get a win and we'll build on that."
Rodriguez is wearing a light cast on his left hand and said that he is scheduled to have another X-ray performed on Monday at Yankee Stadium. He has been told to expect three to four weeks from the date of the injury for healing, and then about another week to get his strength back.
When he is pain-free, Rodriguez will be cleared to resume activities. The Yankees anticipate that Rodriguez will be able to help them at some point in September, and he believes that the club will find its way in his absence.
"Usually we have little slow starts like this in April," Rodriguez said. "Hopefully we're getting it out of the way now and we can start playing really good baseball. And I feel we will. I'm very confident this team will find its way."
Granderson's struggles prompt lineup tweaks
DETROIT -- With a nod toward Curtis Granderson's recent slump at the plate, Yankees manager Joe Girardi shuffled his lineup on Wednesday, dropping the center fielder to sixth in the batting order.
Derek Jeter returned to the leadoff spot, with Nick Swisher batting second against Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez. Granderson was hitless in his last 11 at-bats and had four hits in his last 25 trips to the plate.
"Grandy's been struggling a little bit, so we just moved him down to sixth," Girardi said. "We've had some other guys swinging the bat pretty well. We'll just change it up a little bit."
Granderson said after his 0-for-5 performance on Tuesday that his swings feel a tick off.
"If you're not hitting, you're not hitting. It doesn't matter where you happen to be batting," Granderson said. "[I'm] just not putting the ball in play the way I want to; getting pitches to hit, not being able to square them up. [I'm] fouling a lot of balls off -- just got to figure out the reason why."
Girardi said that he does not know if the move to the leadoff spot played a part in Granderson's slump. While Granderson hasn't led off much as a Yankee, it was his primary spot in the order during his Tigers career.
"I mean, he's hit first plenty in his career," Girardi said. "It's not something that was foreign to him, and the second half, he [has] struggled. It wasn't just when we moved him to first the last five or six days."
Casey McGehee made his second start as a member of the Yankees on Wednesday, batting ninth and playing third base. McGehee was acquired from the Pirates on July 31 for reliever Chad Qualls.
The Yankees have gone a season-high 13 games without an error since July 24. They have not recorded a longer stretch since a Major League-record 18 straight errorless games from May 14-June 1, 2009.
Yankees Minor League left-handed pitcher Carlos Diaz has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspension of Diaz, who is currently on the roster of the Dominican Summer League Yankees, is effective immediately.