Tuesday, October 16, 2012
The radio was a buzz this afternoon when the Yankees lineup came out and Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher were not a part of it.
Needless to say sitting Swisher didn't have much impact on sports radio discussions, but both Michael Kay (ESPN) and Mike Francesa (WFAN) blasted the idea of sitting down a $30MM a year superstar. Even if that star's glow has faded. A-Rod has been terrible, there is no question about it, but neither felt putting Eric Chavez in was the answer. (Chavez is 0-11 thus far with six strikeouts.)
Brett Gardner, who hasn't started a game since April, is leading off and playing left field, while Ichiro Suzuki will slide over to right field. Joe Girardi, in search of any offense, will take a hit defensively tonight with Eduardo Nunez getting the start at shortstop.
But all of those changes paled in comparison to Rodriguez sitting on the bench for the second time in three games. The relationship between Girardi and Rodriguez may have already been strained from the manager's decision to pinch-hit for him twice in the ALCS, but the benchings are even more embarrassing for the 37-year old.
Rodriguez is 4-7 against tonight's starter Justin Verlander, with a pair of home runs. No one thinks A-Rod's past success with impact his game tonight, but Kay and Francesa both felt you need to go with the one-time superstar in the biggest game of the post-season.
There was also speculation that A-Rod's supposed behavior during Game 1, as reported by the NY Post, had an influence on Girardi. Witness said that Rodriguez continually flirted with two women that sat behind the Yankees dugout, at one point sending them baseballs that he wrote on asking for their numbers. One of the two obliged. It was only when Derek Jeter was injured that Rodriguez shut down the American Gigolo show. (Surprised A-Rod didn't go with a Joey Tribbiani, "How youuu doing?")
Kay was livid, for lack of a better word, that Curtis Granderson continued to be in the starting lineup despite the fact that he is just 3-26 (.115).
No matter who is in the Yankees starting lineup, they are going to have a hard time hitting, arguably, the best pitcher in baseball. Verlander won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards last season and was 17-8, 2.64 this year. Prior to this season, Verlander didn't pitch well in his previous post-season starts. But he was dominant in beating the Oakland A's in Game 1 and the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS. (16 IP 7 H 1 ER 5 BB 22 K)
He'll be opposed tonight by Phil Hughes, who pitches the biggest game of his career (supplanting last week's game against Baltimore) tonight. Hughes allowed just a run on four hits and struck out eight in 6.1 innings against the Orioles in Game 4 of the ALDS, which the Orioles won in 13 innings.
It's doubtful tomorrow, no matter the outcome of tonight's game, that tonight's pitchers will be the topic of tomorrow's talk shows.