Alex Rodriguez made Major League history last night in the most dubious fashion.
With two outs and none on in a one-run game in the top of the ninth inning, Rodriguez struck out against Baltimore closer Jim Johnson, the final punctuation mark on a 3-2 Orioles victory. It was the fourth time in Rodriguez’s career that he had struck out to end a playoff game, a new MLB record.
So far this postseason, A-Rod is 1-for-9 with five strikeouts and one walk.
Fans have implored Yankees manager Joe Girardi to move A-Rod out of the three hole in the lineup when the series returns to Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, but that’s not going to happen.
One, despite his history of playoff struggles, Girardi has time and again professed his faith in A-Rod. After Posadagate in 2011, I think Girardi really thinks twice about moving anyone around in the lineup, especially an established star.
Two, what exactly would be the alternate solution? If Girardi were to slide A-Rod down to fifth, sixth or seventh, that leaves Cano at No. 3 in a much more vulnerable. As one of the team’s hottest hitters, it’d be hard to imagine Girardi leaving Cano with little protection behind him in the form of Teixeira, Swisher, A-Rod or Granderson, all of whom have their own flaws at the plate. Why not just walk Cano, or at least pitch around him, to get to that group of four hitters, all of whom are strikeout prone?
Andy Pettitte turned in a more than quality start, going seven-plus innings, allowing seven hits, three runs, one walk and striking out five. That’s about all one could ask of a 40-year-old pitcher who missed 75 days in the middle of the regular season with a fractured ankle.
It’ll be Hiroki Kuroda vs. Miguel Gonzalez in Wednesday’s start.
Kuroda pitched into the ninth inning in his last start against Baltimore, but lost the Aug. 31 game, 6-1. Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy had home runs at Camden Yards.
Gonzalez was 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in two starts against the Yankees during the regular season. He struck out 17 and walked just one in 13 2/3 innings.
I would be shocked if Girardi ran out a lineup different than the one he used in game one of this series.
A parting thought for you. In three three-game series at Yankee Stadium this season, Baltimore won two of three each time.
The two series not featuring Wild Card teams could wrap up as early as tonight. Ryan Vogelsong takes on Homer Bailey as the Giants, trailing by two games, head to Cincinnati. Tim Lincecum will supposedly be available out of the bullpen as the Giants try to stave off elimination. Bailey threw a no-hitter against the Pirates on Sept. 28.
In the AL, Oakland sends Brett Anderson to the mound against Detroit’s Anibal Sanchez in a 9 p.m. start on the west coast. Anderson, coming back from Tommy John surgery, didn’t make his season debut until August. He was 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in six regular season starts. Sanchez, acquired from the Marlins at the trade deadline, had a strong September for the Tigers, going 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA in six starts, one of which was a complete game shutout against the Royals.
St. Louis crushed Washington last night, 12-4, to even that series at one game apiece. The series shifts to Washington Wednesday night.
I’ll be at Yankee Stadium Wednesday and Thursday (and Friday, if necessary) and we’ll be doing a live chat on www.recordonline.com at 6 p.m. Please join in to share your thoughts on the playoffs. In the meantime, you may also reach me on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.