New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi threw everything at the wall in Game 3 of the ALCS, hoping that something would stick. Unfortunately, the only thing that stuck was the rut the Yankees' hitters are in. Slumping Alex Rodriguez watched from the bench as things played out before him. He saw his replacement, Eric Chavez, fare no better than he had at the plate, and to top things off the normally sure handed Chavez made a costly error that led to the run that was the difference in the ball game. The Yankees got a solo home run from Eduardo Nunez and put the tying and go ahead runs on base in the 9th inning before Phil Coke struck out Raul Ibanez to close out the Detroit Tigers' 2-1 victory .
Down 3-0 going into tonight's possible finale, it's time for Girardi to fight with his best weapons, even if those weapons look lost at the plate. The New York area sports radio drive time guys, YES' Michael Kay (ESPN radio) and WFAN's Mike Francesa battered Girardi on Tuesday for his decision to bench Rodriguez in what was, at the point, the biggest game of the year.
I have to side with Girardi on this one, A-Rod has been clueless at the plate and it made sense to sit him against, arguably, the best pitcher in the game (Justin Verlander). It doesn't matter that Rodriguez was 4-7 with two home runs against Verlander. This version of Alex Rodriguez is clearly not the version that hit those two home runs.
Girardi told the media that any strain in his relationship with Rodriguez that may occur as a result of sitting his once mega-star player could be taken care of during the off-season.3 That's a long shot at best, and despite the fact they still owe Rodriguez $114MM over the next five years, it's likely the Yankees will look for a taker prior to next year. (Keith Olbermann has reported the Yankees are already in talks with the Miami Marlins.1).
But back to tonight- Rodriguez must play. Girardi cannot have his team get swept with a guy who has 6472 career home runs sitting on the bench. So continue to bat A-Rod lower in the lineup, but put his name in there no matter what. Leave Brett Gardner in the lineup and keep Nick Swisher out of it. And even though it means taking a hit on defense, let Nunez play shortstop again.
Try to win tonight with your ace (CC Sabathia) on the mound and go on from there. But do it with Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.
1 - NESN.com
- Sports & Recreation
- Alex Rodriguez