Alex Rodriguez finally justified being kept in the lineup over the past week for the New York Yankees.
He’s been battling a strained hamstring and an injured calf. He’s unable to play the field, and he can barely run the bases. Entering Friday, he was one for his previous 21 at-bats. Rodriguez was truly giving Joe Girardi zero reason to play him other than the fact that his potential replacements haven’t played much better. Yet, no. 13 was still penciled in the lineup game after game.
I had previously argued that the Yankees should sit Rodriguez down for a game or two not as a punishment, but because playing him while he’s hurt is only going to cause him further injury and hinder the team’s hopes of winning a Wild Card spot. But Rodriguez made me eat my words in Friday’s game against the San Francisco Giants.
With one out and the bases loaded, and the game tied at one, Rodriguez stepped to the plate. It was clearly the biggest at bat of the game. A hit could break the game open for the Yankees; a double play ball could sway momentum in favor of the Giants.
Rodriguez came through big time. He got a fastball away and drove it deep into the seats beyond the right field wall, giving the Yankees a 5-1 lead. David Robertson pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Mariano Rivera slammed the door in the ninth – just like Girardi drew it up.
For awhile, Rodriguez seemed like Samson after a buzz cut. He couldn’t hit the ball out of the infield, and every at bat was a walk – not because he drew a base-on ball, but because he literally could not run down the first base line. The fielders could have rolled the ball across the diamond and still gotten Rodriguez out at first base.
Well, he didn’t run hard on this hit either – he trotted. Keeping Rodriguez’s bat in the lineup finally paid off. True, one home run does not eradicate his poor performance of late, but he came through in a game the Yankees absolutely needed to win. Girardi kept him in because of his capability to drive in runs, and Rodriguez proved his manager right.
Hopefully, it will be the first of many clutch hits for Rodriguez as the hunt for October comes down its final stretch.