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Alex Rodriguez reportedly expects to be in Yankees’ starting lineup on Monday in Chicago


Alex Rodriguez will file an appeal to his expected suspension and will be in the Yankees’ starting lineup on Monday, according to a report by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Rodriguez faces a ban through the 2014 season, which is expected to be announced by Major League Baseball on Monday, according to NBC Sports sources. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players with pending appeals are allowed to play until a verdict is rendered. The latest from Nightengale:

Alex Rodriguez will be suspended through at least the 2014 season in an announcement Monday by Major League Baseball, but the New York Yankees third baseman plans to file an appeal that will enable him to play that evening against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, two people with direct knowledge of the plan told USA TODAY Sports.

There’s been talk of commissioner Bud Selig enacting a best-interest-of-MLB clause to prevent A-Rod from playing while he appeals his suspension, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says Selig is unlikely to go through with that because he doesn’t want to get into a court battle the MLBPA.

A-Rod’s appeal will be heard by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz within the next three weeks. He one of several players who face punishment for their alleged involvement with Biogenesis, a shuttered Miami wellness clinic, and all of the suspensions are expected to be announced Monday, according to multiple reports. Ryan Braun in July accepted a suspension for the remainder of the season for receiving PEDs from the clinic.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi spoke openly about the situation before Sunday’s series finale against the Padres at Petco Park: “I think all of us are curious what’s going to happen, and is Alex going to be a player for us tomorrow, and what’s going to happen with the other guys that are involved in this. Because in my mind I have him penciled in here tomorrow. … I don’t suspect it’ll be awkward. Most of the guys know him as a teammate and have laughed a lot with Alex and been around Alex a lot. I think it’ll be business as usual.”

Rodriguez, 38, went 9-for-42 (.214/.333/.452) with three home runs and 10 RBI in 15 rehab games.

Yankees third basemen have hit .215/.273/.286 with four homers and 32 RBI in 109 games this year.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.