NEW YORK — For all of his home runs, All-Star accolades and huge salaries, Alex Rodriguez finds himself in a most familiar spot this postseason.
With every swing and miss, memories of his amazing run during the New York Yankees’ championship season in 2009 fade even further. Instead, fans are becoming more and more vocal, calling for manager Joe Girardi to drop him from the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
Rodriguez struck out to end the Yankees’ 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Monday, leaving the best-of-five matchup tied at 1.
He’s fanned plenty of times – five in all while going 1-for-9 so far in the series.
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“I feel fine at the plate,” Rodriguez said after the loss. “I’ve just got to finish at-bats. I’m getting good swings.”
He’ll have the chance to turn things around tonight when the series shifts to the Bronx for Game 3. Hiroki Kuroda (16-11) starts for New York against Miguel Gonzalez (9-4), a rookie right-hander who has 17 strikeouts in 132/3 innings against the Yankees in two starts.
After their train experienced an electrical outage after the loss Monday and turned a usual 2-hour, 15-minute trip to New York into a 5-hour journey, manager Joe Girardi was reluctant to address the Yankees’ more pressing power problem Tuesday.
“I think that we’re going to do whatever it takes to win this three-game series. Nothing that we do will be something that is just a knee-jerk reaction,” Girardi said. “The great thing about this is I have a great group of guys that’s very unselfish, and they really want to win. And that’s what we’re going to do, what we think is best to win.”
Always protective of his players, Girardi might be choosing to coddle Rodriguez after watching Joe Torre cause a stir in 2006 by dropping the 14-time All-Star to eighth in the Yankees’ order against the Detroit Tigers in the first round.
“Sometimes it’s just not as easy as just writing a name or taking a guy out, a pitcher out. You have to think about the emotional part,” Girardi said. “You always have to think about that as a manager.”
But Girardi insisted he likes what he sees from Rodriguez. He hit a sharp liner that Baltimore second baseman Robert Andino stopped with a dive and singled before striking out twice as the Yankees tried to rally.
“He squared up two balls … ” Girardi said. “Right now I don’t have any plans to make any changes.”
Rodriguez isn’t going to find it any easier tonight going up against a pitcher he has never faced in Baltimore starter Gonzalez.
After watching teammates Jason Hammel and Wie-Yin Chen shut down the Yankees’ powerful lineup in the first two games of the series, Gonzalez doesn’t plan on doing anything different at Yankee Stadium.
“I think I’m just going to stay within myself and make good pitches and get guys out,” Gonzalez said Tuesday, “and try to get them as fast as possible.”