By defeating the Blue Jays, 11-4, on Friday, New York cut its magic number to reach the playoffs to two. The Yankees could clinch at least an American League Wild Card berth on Saturday with a victory over Toronto and a win by the Rangers over the Angels.
Should the Yankees and Halos both win, New York would be tied with Texas for the best record in the AL. Of equal importance to the Yanks is their standing atop the AL East, which has second-place Baltimore trailing New York by one game.
The Yankees dropped the first game of the series with Toronto, 6-0, but responded with Friday's win at Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays are trying to play spoiler as the regular season winds down.
The Yankees' cause is certainly helped by having veteran Andy Pettitte -- who's been in his fair share of postseason races -- on the mound amid a fierce playoff race. New York manager Joe Girardi said he hasn't been surprised by Pettitte's strong work lately, and he has similar expectations entering Saturday afternoon's game.
"Just a very good start where maybe you get him up around 95 or 100 pitches, where he can give you some distance and shut the other team down," Girardi said. "That would be great."
Pettitte has made two starts since being sidelined with a fracured left fibula, and he won both, tossing 11 scoreless innings while allowing 11 hits and three walks against six strikeouts.
Toronto will counter with Ricky Romero, who picked up his first win since June 22 his last time out, against Baltimore. Romero gave up four runs on eight hits and four walks in five innings but received plenty of run support in the Blue Jays' 9-5 victory.
Yankees: Granderson providing power
Curtis Granderson's .227 batting average is the lowest of his career, but he's still putting up powerful numbers this season.
The outfielder has a team-high 40 homers -- just one shy of his career high, set in 2011 -- and he's collected 97 RBIs on the season, also the best on the Yankees. Granderson still doesn't consider himself a power threat, which puzzles Girardi.
"I don't know why he doesn't define himself as a home run hitter," Girardi said. "Maybe all those years where he led off, he didn't consider himself a home run hitter, but he's going to hit some home runs."
Girardi also suggested that Granderson's batting average has fallen due to an increase in his strikeouts -- 190 this year -- but the skipper couldn't definitively say there's a correlation between the two.
"Maybe if he hadn't struck out near 200 times, his average is higher," Girardi said. "Maybe it's not. Who knows?"
Blue Jays: Farrell holds meeting
Veteran infielder Omar Vizquel made comments on Thursday questioning the way Toronto's coaches have held players accountable for their actions this season, and that prompted manager John Farrell to hold a 30-minute closed-door clubhouse meeting on Friday.
"We had an opportunity to address a number of things," Farrell said. "The comments were a little bit of a tipping point, and I felt like we needed to discuss some things in house, internally."
Vizquel apologized and said he did not mean to point fingers but did not regret the comments he made, adding that there needed to be more communication between coaches and players.
"It was just a constructive comment, something that we needed to do to become a better team," said Vizquel, who reaffirmed that the Blue Jays need to do a better job of clarifying what is and is not acceptable.
Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, who is dealing with a left calf strain, expects to play five innings in an instructional league game on Saturday. Girardi said he could return during the club's series with the Red Sox, which begins on Monday.
The Blue Jays hold a 4-3 edge against the Yankees at Rogers Centre this year, having outscored New York, 38-35.