On-Base Perception

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Why Alex Rodriguez should play

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez warms up before

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez warms up before the start of Wednesday's scheduled playoff game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The game was rained out. (Oct. 17, 2012) (Credit: Getty Images)

The Yankees needed a rainout.

Even before the literal storm hit Comerica Park on Wednesday, the metaphorical storm had been gathering for days: a suddenly impotent lineup; a captain hobbled by injury; a baseball immortal benched and embarrassed.

If the sky didn't finally open up after 10 p.m. EST, we might have been treated to the image of Joe Girardi turning the sprinklers on to drown the infield, a la Crash Davis in “Bull Durham.”

And the rainout, the breather the Yankees just got, also means they have a chance to right a few wrongs by perhaps writing a new lineup.

Alex Rodriguez was in line to be benched—again—on Wednesday. He was not included in an elimination game lineup for the second time this postseason. And, Page 6 stories aside, there was certainly good reason to pause before including him in the batting order.

A-Rod is 3-for-23 with two walks in six games this postseason. He's scored one run and has struck out 12 times.

His first benching seemed inspired.

A-Rod was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Orioles. That pinch-hitter, Raul Ibanez, hit a game-tying home run and then a game-winning home run later in the night.

The subsequent sittings have seemed more panicked and, perhaps, petty.

A-Rod's primary replacement since the Ibanez game has been Eric Chavez, a great glove who was a solid hitter during the regular season. Then again, so was A-Rod.

But Chavez is 0-for-14 with six strikeouts in five games this postseason. And not seeing his name in the lineup doesn't make anyone bat an eye.

If Girardi is stuck with the unenviable choice of playing one under-performing third baseman or another under-performing third baseman, it might be better to play the odds and put the guy with 647 career home runs at the hot corner.

The Yankees face Max Scherzer on Thursday at 4 p.m., a pitcher who can run his fastball up to 94.2 mph and mix it with a nasty slider and change. But Scherzer also hasn't pitched since Oct. 3 due to shoulder fatigue. The long layoff means he might not be the same guy against whom A-Rod is 1-for-12 in his career.

The rainout Wednesday night washed away the Yankees game. It also has the potential to wash away the decisions that were made in the maelstrom before the game.

It has the potential to give A-Rod a few more at-bats and, maybe, one final chance.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez , Yankees

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