NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi put an end to days of speculation by finally deciding to drop Alex Rodriguez in the batting order for Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night.
Rodriguez dropped from third to fifth in the lineup after struggling to find his groove at the plate during the postseason. It's the lowest spot in the order Rodriguez has hit during a playoff game since batting eighth in Game 4 of the 2006 ALDS vs. the Tigers.
The move comes with Rodriguez hitting just 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts and one walk in the ALDS against the Orioles entering play on Thursday night. Girardi said the decision to move first baseman Mark Teixeira up the lineup while dropping Rodriguez also had to do with left-hander Joe Saunders being on the mound for Baltimore.
"Well, I liked both Tex's and Alex's bat against the lefties that we've had," Girardi said. "They've both been extremely productive for us in these situations. Tex had a big hit off of Saunders the other day, I guess it was probably a month ago, Alex had some RBIs. I liked them both, so I just decided to go that way."
Girardi's decision comes less than 24 hours after he opted to pinch hit for Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3. Raul Ibanez proceeded to tie the game with a solo homer before eventually clinching the victory with a walk-off homer in the 12th off Baltimore's Brian Matusz.
It was a gutsy call by Girardi that ultimately paid off, but one that also came with the possibility of a ripple effect throughout the organization. Rodriguez is still guaranteed $114 million over the next five seasons with an additional $30 million possible through a marketing agreement based on home run milestones.
In other words, Rodriguez isn't going anywhere anytime soon and Girardi potentially has to tread carefully when dealing with the struggling slugger. But for now, Girardi insists everything is fine and that Rodriguez was understanding of last night's decision.
"He wasn't angry, I don't think it will change our relationship," Girardi said. "I think we have a very open dialogue. We have a very honest relationship. I trust him.
"I saw Al's expression when Raul hit the home run, and you see the type of team player he is. I saw how I mean, Alex wants to win, bottom line, whatever it takes, and that's a great thing, to be able to manage a player like that."
Jeter starts Game 4 at DH due to bone bruise
NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's streak of consecutive postseason games played at shortstop came to an end at 155 on Thursday night.
New York's 18-year veteran got the day off from the field and instead started at designated hitter because of a bone bruise on his left foot. It marked the first time Jeter didn't start at shortstop during a Yankees postseason game since Tony Fernandez got the call for Game 5 of the 1995 ALDS vs. the Mariners.
Jeter's status for Game 4 was in question after he sustained a bone bruise while fouling a ball off his left foot during the first inning of New York's 3-2 victory over Baltimore in Game 3. The following day, Jeter informed the team he felt fine, but manager Joe Girardi opted to take a cautious approach.
"You can imagine the conversation that we had today," Girardi said prior to Game 4 of the ALDS against the Orioles. "'Derek, how you feeling?' 'Great.' 'OK.' 'I'm playing.' 'OK.' And I said to him, 'Well, I'm going to DH you then today. Let's go through BP and see how you are.'
"He said, 'I'm playing.' I said, 'OK.' So I'm going to let him go through BP and see how he is. If I have to make an adjustment, I have to. But my guess is, he's great."
Jeter insisted on Wednesday night that he would be ready to play in Game 4. That ended up being the case, but Girardi decided to use the DH spot to give Jeter more of an ability to rest the injured foot.
The strategy was similar to the one Girardi used in the middle of September, when he started Jeter at DH four consecutive games following a left ankle injury.
Jeter, who didn't run the bases during batting practice on Thursday, downplayed the injury.
"I'm good, man," Jeter said. "It's really, like I say, why talk about it? You play or you don't. I'm playing, so there's no need to talk about it.
"Wherever [Girardi] wants me to go, that's where I'll go."
New York would have been ill-prepared to miss Jeter for any period of time. He has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise struggling offense, hitting 6-for-13 (.462) with a pair of RBIs out of the leadoff spot.
Jeter also has now hit safely in 14 of his past 15 ALDS games dating back to 2007. He also has 56 multi-hit games in the postseason and is just three hits shy of 200 for his career in the playoffs. That's well ahead of former teammate Bernie Williams, who ranks second at 128.
Veteran infielder Jayson Nix got the start at shortstop in Jeter's absence. It's his first start since Sept. 27 when he suffered a strained hip flexor during a game against the Blue Jays.
"You know, that's what I've been ready for," Nix said of the opportunity. "You never know how things are going to turn out. My hip's turned around really good and I feel great.
"So I knew I was ready, I didn't know, never know what's going to happen and try to stay -- this is what I stay ready for, for situations like this that you might not expect. But you have to be ready for [them]."
Ibanez's heroics prompt social media eruption
NEW YORK -- The bedlam that broke out in the Bronx on Wednesday with Raul Ibanez's pair of home runs to lift the Yankees to a 3-2 win in 12 innings over the Orioles in Game 3 of the American League Division Series spilled over into social media.
Ibanez's pinch-hit homer off Orioles closer Jim Johnson in the ninth inning tied the game and forced extra innings, prompting 38,549 social media comments in the five minutes after the ball touched down in Section 103 at Yankee Stadium. It was the greatest social media response to that point this postseason.
When Ibanez hit a game-winner in the 12th, that record response nearly doubled. Ibanez's second-deck shot off lefty Brian Matusz elicited 74,972 public Twitter and Facebook comments as pinstripes poured out of the home dugout and swarmed the 40-year-old Ibanez at home plate.
It was the most talked-about -- and with 5.8 million viewers on TBS, the most watched -- moment of a postseason that is already generating plenty of conversation in social media.
Coupled with the A's walk-off Game 4 win over the Tigers a few hours later, Wednesday's full day of baseball -- every Division Series matchup featured a game -- combined for 783,969 social media comments, the most for any day of baseball since the All-Star Game. The 2012 postseason generated more than 2.6 million social media comments entering Thursday, already double the total from the 2011 Division Series. Like Wednesday, Thursday's schedule also included four games, and there will be more action on Friday.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. Steven Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.