CLEVELAND — Matt Holliday found himself on the bench for the sixth straight game this postseason before Game 5 of the ALDS.
Joe Girardi said the veteran has handled it as well as could be expected.
“It’s not easy because it’s harder watching than playing,” Girardi said before Game 5 in which he started Jacoby Ellsbury as the DH against Corey Kluber. “It’s much easier playing because you feel like you’re into the game and you can change the game. When you’re watching it’s really difficult.”
Holliday, signed to a one-year, $13-million contract before the season, slashed .231/.316./432 with 19 homers this season in 105 games. But the 37-year-old, after being sidelined in June because of a viral infection, never got things going in the second half.
After returning from the DL July 14, Holliday played in 37 games, slashing .179/.225/.300 with four home runs.
“It’s been hard,” Girardi said. “But he’s been very professional and he’s trying to stay ready.”
Let’s go to the videotape
The Indians, with one of the best offenses in baseball during the regular season, entered Game 5 hitting .173 the first four games of the series, striking out 46 times in 133 at-bats. Girardi credited the Yankees’ advance scouts, who fanned out over the majors in September to look at possible October matchups, but also pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
“This guy watches countless hours of video,” Girardi said. “I mean, so many hours that I’m amazed. I watch a lot of video. Nothing like Larry. And he knows. And he lives and dies with every pitch. He does a tremendous job of preparing.”
Indians manager Terry Francona said his most difficult lineup decision for Game 5 was starting Roberto Perez, known as a superb pitch-framer, as catcher over Yan Gomes, who caught Kluber in 26 of his 29 starts this season.
“Roberto’s actually been swinging the bat pretty well,” Francona said of Perez, who entered 2-for-7 with a homer in the series. “But we would not base our decision on that . . . It’s not to say that Gomer is not good at making adjustments. I think we just feel Roberto is kind of off the charts in that department . . . I don’t think there was a wrong decision there and we told Gomer that he’d have something to say about the outcome of the game.”
Gomes had the game-winning hit in the 13th inning in the Indians’ 9-8 victory in Game 2.