NEW YORK -- The return of Alex Rodriguez has created a distraction from the Yankees' recent struggles, but to manager Joe Girardi, the embattled third baseman's saga does not overshadow the state of the team.
The Yankees have gone just 6-14 in their last 20 games entering play on Friday, their worst stretch since another 6-14 string in May 2003, to drop just a game above .500, at 57-56.
"These guys are capable of playing much better than they are. And I think it comes down to us, as a whole, playing better and scoring more runs," Girardi said. "That's what we're going to have to do. And you look at the [Tigers] team we're facing, they're playing extremely well and swinging the bats extremely well. So we're going to have to play better."
The Yankees are fighting to get Mariano Rivera back to the postseason in what is his final year wearing pinstripes, but those chances have taken a severe hit as a result of a cold stretch that includes five losses in six games to the Padres and White Sox.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Yankees entered play on Friday with just a 1.9 percent chance of making the postseason. Their odds of leaping over the Red Sox, Rays and Orioles to win the American League East are forecast at just 0.1 percent.
"I think a lot of people want to determine [outcomes] before anything happens, but that's not the case," Girardi said. "So I think, for me and what we've dealt with, we've had a lot of change, and a lot of people walk through here, and people give great effort. Bottom line is, I think we're capable of playing better, and that's what we're trying to do."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.