Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, but Joe Girardi says “he’s due”

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Alex Rodriguez is having the worst season of his career, finishing the first half hitting .269 with 13 homers, 38 RBIs, and a .436 slugging percentage in 82 games.

Both his batting average and slugging percentage would be career-lows and he’s on pace to finish with an OPS below .800 for the first time in 17 full seasons as a major leaguer. All of which isn’t shocking considering he’s 36 years old and showed major signs of declining last season when he missed 63 games with injuries and had what was at the time the worst season of his career by hitting .276 with 16 homers, 62 RBIs, and a .461 slugging percentage.

His yearly OPS has dropped from 1.067 to .965 to .933 to .847 to .823 to .793 since winning the MVP in 2007 and between the aging and injuries Rodriguez seems unlikely to reverse that pattern. However, manager Joe Girardi has yet to bat him anywhere but third or fourth in the Yankees’ lineup and told Austin Laymance of MLB.com that he believes Rodriguez is going to have a big second half:

He’s due. It is what it is. Sometimes guys don’t get hot in the first half. Sometimes they have torrid second halves. … No one knows what the future holds, but I would say he’s due. Maybe he hasn’t driven in all the runs that we maybe expect, but he’s been on base, he’s hit some home runs and he’s a middle of the order guy.

Rodriguez is certainly capable of getting hot and even as a shell of his former self he’s been an above-average hitter as is, but the Yankees of all teams can do better in the middle of the lineup.

Dating back to 2010, among all hitters with at least 1,000 plate appearances Rodriguez ranks 84th in batting average, 56th in on-base percentage, 42nd in slugging percentage, and 46th in OPS. At this point he’s merely a good, solid hitter with occasional power … except he’s batting third or cleanup for the team with MLB’s best record and is still owed $114 million from 2013-2017.

Yankees defeat Blue Jays to clinch postseason spot

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The Yankees guaranteed their place in the postseason with a 5-1 win over the Blue Jays on Saturday. Sonny Gray led the charge against their division rivals, clinching his 10th win of the season with six innings of four-hit, one-run, four-strikeout ball.

Gray worked into a little trouble in the first inning, putting runners in scoring position after Josh Donaldson drew a four-pitch walk and Justin Smoak advanced him with a single. The Yankees’ ace induced two quick outs to end the threat, but was overpowered by a Teoscar Hernandez home run in the third inning, the rookie’s fourth blast of the season:

Thankfully for the Yankees, that was the only run that slipped through the cracks. Gray finished the remainder of his outing with two hits and two walks and was backed by another three scoreless innings from the bullpen. Greg Bird supplied the go-ahead run with a three-RBI shot in the fifth inning, plating Chase Headley and Starlin Castro to give the Yankees their first lead of the night.

Todd Frazier tacked on another solo homer in the eighth, while Starlin Castro returned in the ninth to cap the win with an RBI single. Aroldis Chapman did the rest, wielding just 10 pitches to get three straight outs from Kendrys Morales, Kevin Pillar and Rob Refsnyder.

Following Saturday’s win, the Yankees have at least secured one wild card berth, though they’re not out of the division race just yet. They still sit a full four games back of first place in the AL East, with eight games left to play.

Watch: Brian Dozier pulls off a bunt home run

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Brian Dozier had a bonafide Little League moment during Saturday’s contest against the Tigers. In the first inning, the Twins’ second baseman squared up a bunt against Detroit left-hander Matt Boyd, which was scooped by Jeimer Candelario halfway up the third base line. The throw to first skirted the bag, allowing Dozier to touch all the bases and slide home to score the Twins’ first run of the game.

In other words, it was just your run-of-the-mill bunt home run:

Officially, the play was scored as a single and run scored on a throwing error. Still, if this is a sampling of the kind of plays we can expect to see from the Twins this October, it’s shaping up to be one wacky postseason.