Jones might have played his way off postseason roster

Andruw Jones tosses his bat after he popped

Andruw Jones tosses his bat after he popped out to the shortstop to end the game. (Aug. 29, 2012) (Credit: David Pokress)

Joe Girardi gave Andruw Jones as many chances as a manager possibly could to bust out of his second-half swoon.

But in one of the biggest games of the season, Girardi sat Jones against a lefthander Tuesday night, choosing to start Eduardo Nuñez as his designated hitter against Boston's Jon Lester.

Nuñez (2-for-3, RBI) had an RBI single off the glove of Boston shortstop Jose Iglesias in his first at-bat in the second inning. After a pop-up in the fourth, Nuñez laced a two-out double to left in the sixth. He was removed for pinch hitter Raul Ibañez, who hit a tying two-run homer in the ninth.

The decision puts Jones' postseason roster spot in jeopardy. Even though he has hit .143 in the second half, Girardi had the 35-year-old in the lineup as recently as Sunday against Toronto lefthander Ricky Romero. Jones went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.

"It's tough," Jones said. "You want to be in there and help the team win, but he's going with the guys who have been playing pretty good baseball right now. You've got to understand that and keep working hard and hoping when they put you in you get the job done."

Jones hit .244 with 11 home runs, 22 RBIs and an .862 OPS in 127 first-half at-bats. But he has wilted since the All-Star break, with three home runs, 12 RBIs and a .515 OPS in 105 at-bats.

The player who has been in 76 postseason games and hit 10 home runs, including two against the Yankees as a 19-year-old in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series, might not make it this time.

"If that's a decision they make, that's what it will be," Jones said. "I have no control on that. You can't control anything that will go into their head or what the team will try to do."

Ichiro Suzuki was in the lineup in the nine-hole as the leftfielder. Nuñez, who went into the night batting .279 with one home run and 10 RBIs, was one spot ahead of him.

Girardi chose to play Nuñez even though he has no other healthy backup shortstop. With Derek Jeter playing through a bone bruise in his left ankle, Girardi would be rolling the dice if he sent up a lefthanded hitter to bat for Nuñez late in the game.

"That's something I have to worry about," Girardi said. "But I like the way the kid's swinging the bat."

Said Nuñez: "I'm confident. I never lose my confidence. I'm never afraid to make an error. We're always playing a tough game. If we make an error, it's a tough error. If we make a hit, it's a big hit. I think it's a great opportunity to show I can play, I can hit. This moment is a very big moment."

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