Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he considers his team to be in playoff mode right now.
New York is five games behind Detroit, and also trailing Seattle and Cleveland, in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot after dropping the opener of a three-game series against Boston, 9-4, on Tuesday.
"I wouldn't say it's do or die, but I would say it's really pretty important," Girardi said. "We obviously need to win a lot of games on this homestand."
Hiroki Kuroda (9-8, 3.88 ERA) will try to get the Yankees back on track against the last-place Red Sox on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Kuroda has lasted at least six innings and allowed two runs or fewer in his last three starts, but he will need some help from his offense to snap this three-game losing streak.
The Yankees are 14th in the American League in runs, ahead of only the Red Sox. The Yanks' had only two hits with a runner in scoring position on Tuesday, and one was from Derek Jeter, who has received outside criticism for his spot in the batting order after a poor August (.207/.226/.261).
Despite the outcries, Girardi stated he has no intention of moving him down the batting order.
"I'm not so sure why he's the one that's necessarily picked on here," Girardi said. "As I've said, this guy has been a money player his whole career, and we need him to be the last month."
The Red Sox will counter with Anthony Ranaudo, a New Jersey native who grew up rooting for the Yankees and then beat them in his Major League debut on Aug. 1.
Ranaudo, the team's No. 5 prospect, was recalled for the fourth time this season in advance of this start. He is expected to remain in Boston's six-man rotation for the rest of the season.
Wednesday will be his first time pitching at Yankee Stadium.
"It's going to be fun," Ranaudo said. "I can't even describe how excited I'm going to be. It will be pretty interesting tonight when I put my head on that pillow and see if I can fall asleep. There will be a lot of emotions, but like I said, I'm going to try to take it like it's another game and do the things that have made me successful this year to this point, try to go as deep as I can into the game, put our team in a position to win."
Red Sox: Pedroia unlikely to return this series
Dustin Pedroia is still dealing with concussion symptoms that have kept him sidelined since Saturday night at Tropicana Field.
It seems doubtful that Pedroia will return to play during this three-game series in New York.
"Yesterday when he tried some activity, he didn't feel quite right, and I say that only because it's hard for me to categorize or specifically define what he's feeling," manager John Farrell said. "There's some inconsistencies with his sleep. These are symptoms consistent with a concussion and we've got to be cautious with this and go day to day."
Yankees: Tanaka to throw bullpen session
Masahiro Tanaka has been diagnosed with "arm fatigue" to explain the soreness that forced him back to New York this past weekend.
He was examined by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad and cleared to continue his throwing program after playing catch on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
"Every manual test that they did came out really well," Girardi said. "They just said he had some arm fatigue. He's scheduled to throw a bullpen [session] sometime this week and hopefully he's ready to do it."
• The Sox and Yanks have split their last 38 meetings since Sept. 12, 2012.
• Ranaudo has won his first three career starts.
• The Yankees have lost 20 of their last 29 games against American League East opponents, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.