Via the Ledger -
The game ended with Alex Rodriguez as a spectator again, and this time he didn’t exactly greet the demotion with a smile that lit up the room.
This time, he didn’t sound as supportive as he did the night before, when Raul Ibanez turned Game 3 into his career highlight reel and put the Yankees on the brink of a first-round victory. This time, Rodriguez pursed his lips and made his feelings pretty clear: He might have gone 1-for-4 with two more strikeouts, but he wasn’t the only guy who looked clueless against Baltimore pitching.
And he also made this clear: He didn’t expect to get lifted for a pinch-hitter in the 13th inning of the Yankees’ 2-1 defeat, which ended when Eric Chavez lined out to the game’s hero, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.
“No, no — obviously I’ve gotten a look at this guy for a couple of days now,” Rodriguez said of closer Jim Johnson, “and I hoped it was a little bit different today, but it wasn’t.”
Joe Girardi had let the world know what time it was Wednesday night when he lifted A-Rod in the ninth and turned Ibanez into the darling of the Bronx, so this call wasn’t exactly surprising.
Unless you want to cite the evidence that A-Rod wasn’t much worse than anybody else, which is precisely what he did. He started the game off with a first-inning walk, which drew rousing cheers from 49,307 fair weather friends, and he even lined a single to left in the fourth inning off starter Joe Saunders.
But the next two plate appearances were strikeouts — against Tommy Hunter and Darren O’Day, who summarily blew him away with fastballs.
“I felt pretty good today at the plate, especially after the walk, and I hit a pretty good ball over the shortstop’s head,” he said. “(But) O’Day seemed to have everybody’s number tonight. And I certainly didn’t see it very well today.”
The second K was the killer. Rodriguez had a chance to give his team the lead in the eighth inning, with two men in scoring position and one out, but he was facing O’Day — a guy he’s managed to hit just once in seven tries. To the surprise of no one, A-Rod fanned on four pitches, the last one a rising fastball that he wouldn’t have hit with a tennis racket.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” he said. “I found myself in a few situations where I could do some damage, and I couldn’t get it done tonight.”
If I had a chance, I would tell A-Rod the same thing I told my 8-year son when he complained about batting 6th on his travel team line-up: If you hit great, you’ll bat higher. But, of course, in the case of A-Rod, the message would be: If you hit, then they won’t pinch-hit for you. So, shut up and hit.