Alex Rodriguez goes 0-for-3, gets removed for pinch-hitter

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Alex Rodriguez got the start on Saturday, but he wasn’t around for the finish. After going 0-for-3, he was removed for pinch-hitter Eric Chavez with the Yankees down to the Tigers 4-0 in the eighth inning of Game 1 of the ALCS.

Up with the bases loaded and two outs in the first, Rodriguez hit a hard grounder in his initial at-bat off Doug Fister, only to see Jhonny Peralta make a diving stop and get the force play at second. A-Rod then hit into a double play his second time up. Batting again with the bases loaded in the sixth, he struck out on three pitches from Fister. The last one was a curveball low and away that he didn’t come close to making contact on.

The hitless game left Rodriguez 2-for-19 with 10 strikeouts in the postseason. He doesn’t have a hit versus a right-hander, and the Tigers will start nothing but righties throughout the ALCS.

One imagines the miserable night will lead to Rodriguez sitting in favor of Chavez in Sunday’s Game 2. Chavez, for what it’s worth, very nearly had a double hitting for A-Rod tonight, but he was robbed on a great play from center fielder Austin Jackson.

Rodriguez could get another chance in Game 3 against Justin Verlander. It’d seem to be a horrible matchup with the way Rodriguez is struggling to catch up to good fastballs right now, but A-Rod is 8-for-24 with three homers lifetime against Verlander, including 4-for-6 with two homers this year.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.

The Rays gave Seth Smith a little league homer last night

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I mentioned this in the recaps this morning, but I think it deserves it’s own special place. Get what went down in the second inning of last night’s Rays-O’s game:

Ryan Flaherty was on first with Seth Smith up to bat. Smith hit a single to center. Flaherty, who was running with the pitch, was making for third base. All-world defender Kevin Kiermaier tried to gun him down but threw wildly to third, causing Flaherty to break for home.

Pitcher Alex Cobb had the play backed up, however! He got the ball near the dugout. Flaherty scampered back to third and Cobb tried to throw him out. The ball hit Flaherty’s helmet, richocheting into left field, allowing both Flaherty and Smith — who had stopped at first and then stopped at second, like a kid at tee ball or something — to come around and score.

Watch:

 

I still think the Rays walking home the winning run on four pitches in the 11th inning was worse, but this looked worse.

Oh well: the Rays get the day off today and tomorrow, of course, is another day.