Joe Girardi made a change with Alex Rodriguez, but it isn’t the one many Yankees fans (and at least one HardballTalk writer) have been clamoring for.
The manager has Rodriguez starting at designated hitter tonight rather than his usual third base, but Rodriguez remains the No. 3 hitter. Eric Chavez is starting at third base and batting ninth, which is where Eduardo Nunez hit as the DH in Game 2.
Rodriguez went 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in the first two games of the ALDS versus Baltimore and hit just .278 with five homers and a .418 slugging percentage in 40 second-half games.
Perhaps there are a few who still miss the slope of Tal’s Hill rising from center field, but George Springer isn’t one of them. He lassoed a 403-foot fly ball from Todd Frazier in the seventh inning of Game 6, reaching nearly to the top of the wall to prevent the Yankees from gaining on the Astros’ 3-0 lead.
According to Statcast, a fly ball with an exit velocity of 103.6 MPH and a launch angle of 29 degrees lands for a home run 72% of the time. That wasn’t going to fly with the Astros, who were facing runners on first and second with one out and saw Justin Verlander‘s pitch count rapidly approaching 100.
It wasn’t long before the Yankees tried for another home run, however, and this one sailed far above the heads of all of the Astros’ outfielders. Aaron Judge lofted a 425-foot shot to left field in the eighth inning, destroying a first-pitch fastball from Brad Peacock and finally getting New York on the board.
The Yankees currently trail the Astros 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth.