10/14/12 2:50 AM ET
Without Jeter, Yanks need A-Rod in top form
By Bryan Hoch and Steven Miller / MLB.com
"It's just been too long," manager Joe Girardi said of the third baseman's slump.
Girardi pinch-hit for Rodriguez on Saturday for the third time this postseason, replacing him with Eric Chavez in the eighth inning with right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit on the mound.
Rodriguez went 0-for-3 before returning to the bench, hearing familiar boos at Yankee Stadium in the sixth when he swung at and missed a curveball to cap a three-pitch strikeout against starter Doug Fister with runners on second and third. Rodriguez grounded into an inning-ending double play in his second at-bat, helping the 47,122 in attendance forget about his first RBI opportunity, when Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta robbed A-Rod of a hit and his first RBI this postseason.
Rodriguez ripped the first pitch he saw from Fister into the hole between third base and shortstop, but Peralta dove to his right to backhand the ball and fired to second base, narrowly beating Raul Ibanez for a forceout to leave the bases loaded, which the Yankees did two other times in the series opener.
"The first at-bat, he had a good at-bat," Girardi said.
Rodriguez did not speak with the media before or after his return to the starting lineup. Girardi benched Rodriguez for Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Baltimore after pinch-hitting for him in Games 3 and 4. Rodriguez made the final out of a Game 2 loss at Baltimore before Girardi took the bat out of his hands in the ninth and 13th innings, respectively, of the next two games, with the Yankees trailing each time.
Rodriguez is 2-for-19 this postseason with two singles, two walks and a run scored. He has struck out 10 times.
Rodriguez is hitless against right-handed pitchers this postseason after hitting .256 (81-for-317) against them during the regular season. Girardi has a left-handed-hitting option at third base in Chavez, who went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts after replacing Rodriguez in Game 1 of the ALCS but was 16-for-31 with eight runs scored and five RBIs against Detroit in the regular season.
Girardi will have opportunities to use Chavez in a lefty-righty matchup for the remainder of the series, as Detroit will start a right-handed pitcher in each game, but the manager said before Game 1 that he needs Rodriguez's potential, and that is magnified by Jeter's loss.
"If we want to make some noise," Girardi said, "we need this guy to be Alex."
Hughes, CC to follow Kuroda in ALCS rotation
NEW YORK -- About 45 minutes after CC Sabathia fired the final out of the American League Division Series into Mark Teixeira's glove, manager Joe Girardi was huddling with his coaches in a clubhouse office at Yankee Stadium, plotting the Yankees' pitching for the next round.
While it felt unorthodox to have to hurry such decisions with a quick turnaround, spilling some of the preparation even into the hours leading to the 8:07 p.m ET first pitch of Game 1 of the ALCS on Saturday, Girardi said that he is confident he and his staff came away making the right calls.
New York will go with Hiroki Kuroda on short rest in Game 2, setting up Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia to pitch on regular rest for Games 3 and 4, respectively, against the Tigers.
"We talked to [Kuroda]; he said he feels good and we decided to go with him on short rest," Girardi said. "Hughesy will be on normal rest and so will CC. Someone was possibly going to be off his normal rest. This way, it's only one guy."
Girardi said that he and his staff "kicked around" the idea of pitching rookie right-hander David Phelps in Game 2, but decided that he was better served to remain in a bullpen role. Kuroda's fatigue, Girardi said, should not be an issue on Sunday.
"Maybe, I don't expect him to throw as many pitches tomorrow," Girardi said. "We'll see how he's doing, but I feel pretty good about sending him out there."
Hughes and Sabathia are locked into Games 3 and 4 regardless of how the series progresses to that point, Girardi said.
Hughes took a no-decision in a sharp 6 2/3-inning outing against the Orioles in Game 4, allowing a solo Nate McLouth homer among four hits permitted while walking three and striking out eight.
Sabathia, of course, is coming back from his dominant complete-game victory to end Baltimore's season in Game 5 and move the Yankees on to the ALCS, as well as a strong 8 2/3-inning performance in New York's Game 1 win at Baltimore.
Girardi said that he considered using Sabathia on short rest in Game 3 against the Tigers, but ultimately decided against that.
"We thought about it, but you think about how hard he's worked these two starts," Girardi said. "I would rather have him Game 4 fully prepared than maybe short rest in Game 3."
Sabathia said he would have been ready for a Game 3 assignment if that's what the Yankees had needed, but he said he will throw his normal bullpen session on Sunday and be set for Wednesday's Game 4 in Detroit.
"At this point of the year, anything's OK," said Sabathia, who added he'd be ready for a potential Game 7. "It's my time to be heard and it's time to go."
Tino revisits glory days with Raul's heroics
NEW YORK -- Tino Martinez was more nervous on Saturday, when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium before Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers, than at any point during his career as a player.
The same could be said of Martinez's experience as an onlooker for New York's AL Division Series triumph over the Orioles, which didn't allow him to actually affect the game with a bat in his hands.
As a special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman, Martinez has more than a casual interest in the team for which he played seven years and has since thrown out multiple "slowball" first pitches.
The former first baseman watched each of the Yankees' home games in the ALDS at Yankee Stadium, witnessing what he called "an amazing moment in Yankee history" when Raul Ibanez hit a game-tying pinch-hit home run in the ninth inning of Game 3 against the Orioles, before hitting a walk-off homer in the 12th.
"I thought it was fantastic," Martinez said. "An unbelievable night."
The magic wasn't limited to Wednesday night, however. Ibanez came through a few hours after Martinez's ceremonial first pitch, hitting a game-tying homer with two outs in the Yankees' four-run ninth inning, helping send Game 1 into extra innings. With that homer, Ibanez became the first player in Major League history to hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason.
The 44-year-old Martinez was part of plenty of success in New York, winning four World Series titles and playing in one other Fall Classic. He hit a grand slam to give the Yankees a seventh-inning lead against the Padres in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series, but perhaps his most memorable homer came in the 2001 World Series, which the Yankees lost in to the D-backs.
Like Ibanez, Martinez homered to tie the game in the ninth inning, although he did not come off the bench that night, in Game 4, which the Yankees won an inning later when Derek Jeter homered off Byung-Hyun Kim, who allowed Martinez's shot.
"The electricity in the stadium when Raul hit it, that's what it felt like -- those days back then," Martinez said. "I was excited as a fan, too, though, because the team has been playing pretty good, but they hadn't had that big moment yet."
Martinez believes Ibanez's performance is the type that might long be remembered as a momentum turner if it helps lift the Yankees to their 28th World Series title.
"The fans have been kind of spoiled with all the World Series, but after '09, you think they'll win again, and they haven't won in a few years," Martinez said. "This is a big year for them. They want to win it. One of those moments is one of the things that can propel the team to a World Series championship."
The Yankees must first navigate the ALCS against the Tigers, who "have always been tough on the Yankees," Martinez said, particularly last season, when they eliminated New York in a five-game ALDS.
Jeter said the disappointment of last year's ALDS exit doesn't provide much motivation this year, and Martinez agrees.
"I don't get revenge," Martinez said. "No, they beat you last time. You're just trying to get to the World Series. Whether it's the Tigers, the Angels or whoever may be in your way, you just want to beat them, period. You're not going to get any more satisfaction beating the Tigers than you would the Orioles or somebody to get to the World Series. You just want to get to the World Series."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.