Yanks employ familiar lineup in Game 1
Posada to catch Sabathia, Swisher gets start in right field
NEW YORK -- If Joe Girardi had designs on altering his lineup for Friday's Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, he might have looked toward Nick Swisher, who came into the day 5-for-43 with 17 strikeouts in his career off Angels starter John Lackey.
But Girardi and his staff did what managers and coaches do. They looked at video, they broke it down and they determined that Swisher hasn't been that bad against Lackey, after all.
"We watched his at-bats," Girardi said. "Sometimes when you give a guy a day off, you look to give him a day off against a guy that maybe he's struggled a little bit. But we watched his at-bats the last couple of years and he's hit some balls really hard. He does see pitches on John Lackey, which is extremely important. And that's why he's in there."
And so the Yankees proceeded Friday with the same lineup they used in Games 1 and 3 of the AL Division Series, with Swisher in right field batting eighth.
As usual, Girardi wrote shortstop Derek Jeter's name into the leadoff spot, followed by Johnny Damon in left field, Mark Teixeira at first base, Alex Rodriguez at third base, Hideki Matsui at designated hitter and Jorge Posada at catcher. Robinson Cano played second base and hit seventh, followed by Swisher and center fielder Melky Cabrera.
Other than Damon and Rodriguez, who entered the game 9-for-51 off Lackey, the Yankees had traditionally fared quite well against Mike Scioscia's Game 1 starter. Teixeira, Jeter and, most notably, Damon had combined for a .355 average, three home runs and 20 RBIs in 141 career at-bats off the right-hander.
Against a pitcher such as Lackey, who throws great quantities of breaking balls, Girardi stressed the importance of waiting for good ones to hit.
"You want to try to make him get his breaking ball up," Girardi said. "Depending on the feeling in his fingers tonight, that could change everything. He might approach you different. But he is not a guy that's afraid to throw a pitch at any time in the count."
The Yankees, of course, entered Game 1 knowing they would have to combat more than merely Lackey. Game-time temperatures were expected to dip into the low 40s, with a chance of rain all evening.
"You really never know until you go through it," Girardi said. "Cold is one thing to deal with, wet is another. Balls can take off on wet turf, which can change the complexion of a game.
"There's no doubt the conditions are going to be raw tonight. And you hope that a ball doesn't skid off the grass and take a bad hop that could cost you."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.