NEW YORK -- The last two games provided the offensive performances the Yankees were hoping for when they acquired Alfonso Soriano and got Alex Rodriguez back in the lineup. The addition of both bolstered what had been a lackluster middle of the order.
Perhaps no one has benefited as much as Robinson Cano. He has protection in the order and is finally getting pitches to hit.
"You can tell the last two games," Cano said. "When you have those guys -- guys that hit homers, guys that have been in the game a long time, guys that got good numbers -- it makes a big difference in the lineup."
Cano went 4-for-4 with an RBI in Wednesday's 11-3 win over the Angels. He passed Phil Rizzuto for sole possession of 15th place on the Yankees' all-time hit list with his 1,589th hit in his third at-bat in the fourth inning.
In his last 11 plate appearances, Cano has reached base 10 times -- seven hits and three walks. During the Yankees' homestand, Cano is 10-for-20 with two doubles and three RBIs.
That's why it's impossible to overlook how much it's meant to have A-Rod and Soriano.
"This is the team that we are," Cano said. "In the past, we weren't getting on base, which is the difference the last two games. We get on base, and we've been finding men on bases, and him and A-Rod make a big difference for the lineup."
Soriano has hit two home runs in each of the last two games, becoming the first Yankee with back-to-back multihomer games since Jason Giambi in 2005.
Soriano also racked up 13 RBIs during the two-game surge, becoming one of only three Major League hitters since 1920 to have at least six RBIs in two straight games, joining the Brewers' Geoff Jenkins in 2001 and the Rangers' Rusty Greer in 1997.
"Just hope it continues. What he's done the past two days is special," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's a big bat, and hopefully it just really continues."
Rodriguez, too, is still a threat. On this homestand, Rodriguez is 5-for-20 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs. He's 8-for-31 (.258) since returning to the team on Aug. 5.
The Yankees have won their last four games and have scored 25 runs in their last two, much of that success courtesy of the new-look heart of the lineup.
"When you're not winning, you're just trying to figure out what's wrong, what you have to do to win," Cano said. "But when you're winning, you just have fun. You don't have to figure out anything."
Yanks bring up Huff for 'pen help; option Betances
NEW YORK -- With a three-game set at Boston this weekend and a split doubleheader on the schedule for Tuesday, the Yankees were in need of an arm out of the bullpen who could come in against lefties and give them some length.
They'll get that from left-handed reliever David Huff, who the Yankees recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before Thursday's series finale. Manager Joe Girardi said he would consider using Huff as both a long man and a matchup play against left-handed hitters.
Huff was 1-6 with a 3.84 ERA as a starter for the RailRiders this season. He also had a brief stint with New York this year, pitching one inning for the team against the Rays on May 26 after being claimed from the Indians a day earlier.
"I've been working on a lot of stuff in Scranton -- working on a breaking ball, working on a cutter," Huff said. "Now to finally have these things better than they have been in the past, it's kind of nice coming up here and seeing how it plays out."
Reliever Dellin Betances was optioned to Scranton to make room for Huff. Betances pitched just two-thirds of an inning for the Yankees since being called up on Sunday, giving up four runs on five hits in Tuesday's 14-7 win over the Angels.
"I feel bad on the terms I came up with, with Dellin going back down," Huff said. "I was really looking forward to being in the bullpen with him, because we've been together for as long as I've been here. It kind of [stinks], but he'll be back up here. I know he will. He's got good stuff."
The Yankees also transferred pitcher David Phelps from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL as part of the move. Phelps first went on the DL on July 5 with an elbow strain, and he was diagnosed with another elbow strain on Aug. 6.
Phelps is eligible to return from the disabled list on Sept. 4, and Girardi said he expects the right-hander to pitch for the Yankees again this season.
"He's not going to pick up a ball again for a while like he did before," Girardi said. "Sept. 4 probably isn't realistic anyway, for him to come back. So it was a pretty easy move."
Huff -- who has a 13.50 ERA over four innings between the Indians and Yankees this season -- said he's excited to be back in the Majors, especially given the way the team has played over its past few games.
"As an organization, they're always making a playoff push, always going deep in the playoffs," Huff said. "For me, I'm not used to it, because I was with Cleveland. It's exciting. It's bringing out a different animal."
Former Yankees traveling secretary Kane dies
NEW YORK -- Former Yankees traveling secretary Bill "Killer" Kane has died at 75.
Kane, who began his career as a radio and television statistician, first served as the team's traveling secretary from 1974-76, and then again from 1978-87, when he became the Yankees' assistant general manager.
He worked as the supervisor of luxury box services in the 1990s before he retired.
Visitation will be held at Schuyler Hill Funeral Home on 3535 East Tremont Ave., Bronx, N.Y., on Saturday and Sunday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. ET, and then from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.
A funeral mass will be held on Monday at St. Benedict's Church at 2969 Otis Ave., Bronx, N.Y., with the time to be determined.
• Asked if shortstop Derek Jeter could return from the disabled list when he's first eligible Sunday in Boston, Girardi said, "I wouldn't think so." Jeter took batting practice and fielded grounders on the field on Thursday, and he's scheduled to go to Tampa, Fla., to continue his rehab after the game.
• Alex Rodriguez played third base and batted cleanup Thursday against the Angels. He's 5-for-20 with two doubles, a home run and four RBIs on the Yankees' homestand, entering Thursday's series finale.
• Yankees reliever David Robertson and Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster will be playing against each other both on the field and off it this weekend. The two are taking part in "Power of 2," a fundraising initiative where the two players will compete to see who can raise more money for their respective charity over a two-week period.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Chris Iseman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.