Alex Rodriguez back in lineup for Game 1 of ALCS, but bumped to sixth

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After he was benched in favor of Eric Chavez for the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS against the Orioles yesterday, Alex Rodriguez is back in the starting lineup for Game 1 of the ALCS tonight against Doug Fister and the Tigers.

Rodriguez will play third base and bat sixth in his return. It certainly makes sense to put A-Rod back out there tonight, as the Yankees’ backs aren’t up against the wall anymore. Chavez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts yesterday, so it’s not like he made a very compelling argument to stick in the lineup tonight. Still, the Tigers will exclusively use right-handers in their rotation, so if A-Rod continues to struggle, he may find himself on the bench again at some point during the series.

Here’s the full Yankees’ lineup for Game 1 of the ALCS:

1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Ichiro Suzuki, LF
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Mark Teixeira, 1B
5. Raul Ibanez, DH
6. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
7. Nick Swisher, RF
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Russell Martin, C

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.