Original Game 6 plan not altered
Girardi utilizes lineup he crafted before Saturday's rain
NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi insisted after Saturday night's rain out that the weather would not in any way change his plans. Sunday, he proved it.
Girardi kept his original Game 6 lineup intact Sunday evening, meaning that Nick Swisher, despite struggling mightily over the first five games of the American League Championship Series, was batting eighth and playing right field for the Yankees against the Angels.
Earlier this weekend, Girardi spoke with Swisher in an attempt to gauge his state of mind.
"Swish is a good player," Girardi said. "He's struggling a little bit now, but he's one of the reasons that we are here. I have had a discussion with him. And I feel good about what he's going to do."
Through eight postseason games, Swisher has batted .103 with 10 strikeouts in 29 at-bats, reaching base at just a .212 clip. His struggles drew national attention in the ninth inning of Game 5 in Anaheim, when, facing erratic Angels closer Brian Fuentes with the bases loaded, Swisher popped up a 3-2 pitch to end the game.
Girardi admitted Saturday that he considered swapping Swisher out for Jerry Hairston Jr., before deciding that he would rather have a player who has received regular at-bats in the lineup.
"You think about your lineup all the time," Girardi said Saturday, noting that Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira both appear to have emerged from their own postseason slumps. "Johnny was scuffling and Johnny came out of it. Tex was scuffling and he had a huge hit for us. I didn't have a hit in the  World Series until my triple in Game 6. Joe [Torre] didn't bench me, you know? Swish plays a good right field out there for us, he does. And it's not the easiest right field to play. He's had good at-bats against Joe Saunders."
Game 6 may not have been the ideal time to make a change, anyway. The switch-hitting Swisher is roughly equally proficient from the right side as from the left, and he has one home run in 21 career at-bats off Saunders. In Game 2 against Saunders, Swisher was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.
"Swisher is not a platoon player," Girardi said. "Swisher has been an everyday right fielder that has put up good numbers for us. Yeah, he's struggled, but he's had some good at-bats. He had some good at-bats off of Saunders and we're sticking with him."
It is easier for Girardi to endure a slump from one of his players, of course, when the rest of them are hitting. The Yankees have continued to put pressure on Anaheim's pitching staff despite the fact that the Angels are pitching extremely carefully to Alex Rodriguez, twice intentionally walking him in this series with two outs and no one on base.
That careful approach has put more pressure on the hitters behind Rodriguez -- one of the reasons why Girardi moved Jorge Posada into the fifth spot of the lineup. One of the team's hottest hitters, Posada -- who is 2-for-4 in his career off Saunders -- may be able to provide Rodriguez with better protection than the left-handed-hitting Matsui.
"Jorge has had good at-bats against Saunders as well," Girardi said. "And there are a lot of other guys in our lineup capable of winning games for us, and that's what we like about our lineup. Guys have had success. If they're going to pitch around Alex, guys behind him have to do the job."
The rest of the Yankees' lineup is as expected. Derek Jeter is leading off and playing shortstop, followed by Damon in left field, Teixeira at first base, Rodriguez at third base, Posada at catcher, Matsui at designated hitter, Robinson Cano at second base, Swisher in right field and Melky Cabrera in center.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.