NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Sensing a comeback, the fans at Yankee Stadium were rocking.
Alex Rodriguez entered the batter’s box to a swelling applause. He exited to Bronx cheers.
Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit gave up a homer to Curtis Granderson in the eighth inning but got Rodriguez, 0 for 8 in the series, and Mark Teixeira to pop out, eliciting boos from many of the 50,596 in attendance.
“I don’t have any plans of changing my lineup,” said Girardi, when asked about Rodriguez’s struggles. “I’m not going to make too much of two games.”
In the ninth, Detroit closer Jose Valverde walked Granderson to put runners on first and second in the ninth, but he recovered to retire the dangerous Robinson Cano and finish the Tigers’ 5-3 victory over New York on Sunday that evened the AL division series at one game apiece.
“There’s no need to get emotional,” A-Rod said. “You really have to stay in the moment. Like Phil Jackson, you have to go into a little bit of a zen mode.”
A-Rod admitted that sure, he hasn’t had great swings in the series. But that could turn around quickly.
“One thing about the playoffs is one at-bat, one pitch can make a big difference,” he said. “I’m assuming over the next day or two or three there’s going to be some big at-bats that I’m going to be ready for. Two outs, scoring position all over the place, and that’s something that I relish.”
Playing on the scheduled travel day because rain interrupted Game 1, the Tigers now fly home with a chance to take command of the series, just as they did in 2006, when they lost the opener in New York before sweeping three straight.
In a rematch, of sorts, CC Sabathia is scheduled to start Game 3 against Justin Verlander, a 24-game winner. The two All-Stars faced each other in the series opener Friday night, but the game was suspended after only 1½ innings.
Facing Verlander will be tough for A-Rod, who according to hitting coach Kevin Long is “a tick late” swinging at fastballs. That likely means a steady diet of two- and four-seamers.
“That’s OK,” said Long. “We want him to see fastballs.”
Long also had a message for the Yankee Stadium fans.
“If we want to beat him up over two games, certainly people have the right to do that,” said Long. “I just don’t think it’s fair.”
Is it too early to get on A-Rod? Be heard in the comments below…
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