Sleepless night has Yankees manager Joe Girardi pondering change

Yankees manager Joe Girardi. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters file photo)

Yankees manager Joe Girardi. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters file photo)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:11 PM ET

NEW YORK - Sleep didn't come easily to Joe Girardi after his Yankees lost in Baltimore Monday night.

No, he wasn't in a wakeful fret about what to do about slumping Alex Rodriguez, or at least he wouldn't say he was.

What kept Girardi up until 6 a.m. was the same thing that kept the whole Yankees team from a decent night's sleep. Amtrak.

The Yankees' chartered train bringing them back to New York from Baltimore, after the Orioles had levelled the best-of-five American League Division Series at one win apiece, experienced a power failure at about 2:30 in the morning and rolled to a silent stop at the station in the small Maryland town of Aberdeen. Now, Aberdeen happens to be the home of the Ironbirds, Baltimore's affiliate in the Class A New York-Penn League, a fact that might lead conspiracy theorists in a whole other direction.

But scratch that, because the Orioles got caught in the same weird blackout vortex and didn't arrive at their New York hotel until 8:30 a.m.

"I would say we got to the (Baltimore) train station around 1-ish, maybe 1:10, 1:15," said Girardi. "We took off at 2 (o'clock) because I guess there was an electrical problem at the station, but the thought was once we got away from the station, the train was fine.

"And then about 2:30, 2:35, you noticed that we started having some electrical issues again, and you noticed that the train was slowing down. It just seemed like we were coasting, and we kind of coasted into Aberdeen, I guess."

All that was missing from this gong show were Steve Martin and the late John Candy, the stars of 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles.'

"We were fortunate that our buses were headed back to New York, and they were going parallel (on Interstate 95)," said Girardi. "I would say about 3:15, 3:30, we got back on the buses and we got to New York City about 6 in the morning.

"You know, you'd think that a city this close in proximity would be easy to get between, but not today."

Maybe all that wakefulness did give Girardi some opportunity to reflect on A-Rod's slump and just how important these next three days in New York are because he had changed his tune Tuesday afternoon regarding the possibility of adjusting his lineup. He was making no promises but at least he was discussing it.

"We know that we're in a three-game series, and whether you need to pinch-hit for someone, you need to make a pitching change, you need to change the lineup a little bit, our guys understand," he said. "We have a veteran group that understands that we're going to do what we think is the best thing to win. So I mean, yeah, of course you have to take in a lot of factors. Sometimes it's just not as easy as writing a name or taking a guy out, a pitcher out. You have to think about the emotional part. You always have to think about that as a manager.

"But being a three-game series, our guys know what's at stake, and we have to win two games."

Rodriguez did get his first hit of the series Monday and scorched another ball that Baltimore second baseman Robert Andino made an excellent play on and turned into a double play in the first inning.

A-Rod's non-production stretches well back into September and while he remains in the lineup, batting in the No. 3 hole for what he's done in the past and what he might do in his next at-bat, there is a suspicion he's nearing that fine line between having it all and has-been.

If Buck Showalter perceives Rodriguez as the lesser threat, he's going to go after him and pitch around the greater concern that Robinson Cano presents. In that way, Rodriguez, who used to make the hitters around him better because he was so feared, is now making the hitters around him less effective.

"I think that we're going to do whatever it takes to win this three-game series," said Girardi. "Nothing that we do will be something that is just a knee-jerk reaction. You know, we talk about different things, and whether it's a pitching change or pitching situations. The great thing about this is I have a great group of guys that's very unselfish, and they really want to win. And that's what we're going to do, what we think is best to win."

If that's the case, then surely Wednesday's lineup will at least have Rodriguez flip-flopped with Cano. Better yet, he'll be batting sixth or seventh.

Amtrak willing, the playoff train is about to leave the station and the Yankees have to do something if they want to be on it, not under it.


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