BALTIMORE -- Joe Girardi doubled down on calling Sunday's contest "probably the most important game of the year" for his club, but the Yankees manager had to fill out a lineup card without shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is nursing injuries to his left forearm and wrist.
Gregorius was hit by a 95-mph Kevin Gausman fastball in the fourth inning of the Yankees' 2-0 loss to the Orioles on Saturday evening. He was also drilled in a similar location by Baltimore's T.J. McFarland on Aug. 27 in New York.
"Didi, I'd planned on playing," Girardi said. "His arm is sore from where he's been hit the last [few] days. I planned on having him in there."
Girardi said that he hopes a day off will be enough to get Gregorius back in the lineup, but the skipper did not know if he would be available off the bench as the Yankees looked to avoid a three-game sweep by the Orioles.
"You know, we've went younger, definitely," Girardi said. "At times we've had two [rookie] starters in; [sometimes] three. Today we have more. Some of it's based on need, and we need our kids to come up big today."
Girardi said that he wanted to try shaking up the order after New York was blanked on six hits in the first 18 innings of the series. The Orioles shut out the Yankees in three consecutive meetings going into Sunday's finale.
"I believe in this team, and you've got to go out and win today," Girardi said. "These other teams have tough schedules just like we do. We're going to be within our division, so let's just see what happens."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.