“I believe these guys are going to come through.”
Girardi’s relentless blind faith comes across as short-sighted, but here’s the thing: For the most part, I think a lot of us believe the exact same thing.
Robinson Cano couldn’t have been better in the final week and half of the regular season. Nick Swisher was terrific down the stretch. Russell Martin had a good final month, Raul Ibanez came up with huge hits and Derek Jeter has been consistent all year. Mark Teixeira should have been suspect this postseason, but he’s hit the ball pretty well the past two nights.
For the most part, the Yankees look like a team that should hit in big spots, and Sunday’s ninth inning against one of the best closers in baseball was proof that they’re capable of doing exactly that.
But there’s an exception to every rule, and for the Yankees it’s Alex Rodriguez. Late last night, with Rodriguez at the plate, someone sitting near me in the press box said to no one in particular, can you believe this guy used to be the most feared power hitter in baseball?
“I feel okay,” Rodriguez said after going 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. “Some of these at-bats, you just have to finish them. You get O’Day 3-2, and he just made a hell of a slider, maybe an inch or two off the black. I don’t know if I can take that pitch tonight or any night, really. Get to 3-2, you have to finish some of these at-bats.”
Is that really all it is, just finishing some at-bats? Rodriguez did hit the ball pretty hard in the first inning, but the fact a sharp lineout counts as progress tells you how far he’s fallen. Rodriguez has had one extra-base hit since September 15. That’s one double in 90 plate appearances. Before that stretch, he actually had three homers in seven games, but right now there’s nothing in his bat, and his “crush and do damage” catch phrase has been replaced by “small bites” and “pass the baton.”
“He squared up two balls (last night),” Girardi said. “You look at the ball he hit in the first inning, he squared it up, and then he had the other hard single. Right now I don’t have any plans to make any changes (to the lineup).”
There’s little reason to believe Rodriguez will not bat third in Wednesday’s Game 3. But believe he’ll actually hit in that spot? Right now it’s hard to see it.
Associated Press photo