Girardi stays with Ellsbury as DH for Game 5

Yankees' skipper likes lefty bat, speed in lineup against Kluber

Girardi stays with Ellsbury as DH for Game 5

CLEVELAND -- In preparing for the decisive Game 5 of the American League Division Series presented by Doosan, the Yankees opted to make only minor adjustments to a lineup that knocked Indians ace Corey Kluber out in the third inning of Friday's Game 2, sticking with Jacoby Ellsbury as the designated hitter.

Ellsbury struck out in his only at-bat against Kluber in Game 2, and Ellsbury was hitless in four ALDS at-bats entering Game 5. Chase Headley and Matt Holliday were also considered, but manager Joe Girardi opted to go with Ellsbury's 5-for-20 (.250) career performance against Kluber over Headley's 1-for-14 (.071) showing. Yankees' DHs entered Game 5 a combined 0-for-18 in the postseason.

Game Date Results Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 5 CLE 4, NYY 0 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 6 CLE 9, NYY 8 (13) Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 8 NYY 1, CLE 0 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 9 NYY 7, CLE 3 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 11 NYY 5, CLE 2 Watch

"As we looked through the at-bats against Kluber, Jacoby's have probably been the best over the years," Girardi said. "He also gives you a speed element there if he does get on that we like. We went over it for a couple days and that's the decision we made. Lefties have had a little bit more success with [Kluber] than right-handers, so that's how we made it."

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Holliday has not started in any of the Yankees' six postseason games. He is just 0-for-1 against Kluber in his career, but Girardi said that leaving Holliday out of the lineup was more a product of the lengthy layoff.

"He hasn't had an at-bat in eight days; that's kind of difficult," Girardi said. "I think he's faced him once in his career. He hasn't really seen him, and we look at Matty as more of a DH vs. lefties."

Holliday was a major part of the Yankees' early success, but he hit just .179/.225/.300 with four homers and 17 RBIs in the second half. Girardi said he believes Holliday has handled the situation "about as good as you can," likening it to his own experiences in the late 1990s when Girardi and Jorge Posada battled for playing time behind the plate.

"It's not easy, because it's harder watching than playing," Girardi said. "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. So it's been hard, but he's been very professional and he's trying to stay ready."

Dear John
Girardi said he reached out to John Farrell prior to Game 5. Farrell was dismissed as the Red Sox's manager on Wednesday, with Boston having been eliminated by the Astros on Monday in the other ALDS.

"I feel for him. I've been there," Girardi said. "My heart goes out to him, because I know how much he puts into the job, and how much you put your heart and soul into a job. I don't care what level it is, where you're at in your life, when you're not retained or fired, it's no fun.

"And it hurts. In your mind, you've put your heart and soul into something, and it's someone saying that we think someone else can do a better job or we're going to go a different direction. And it hurts, and I feel for him."

Hello, Hal
Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner is in Cleveland for Game 5. Girardi said they had a brief conversation in the team hotel, and the manager said that Steinbrenner's mood seemed "no different" than it had been before Games 3 and 4 in New York.

"I saw him in the lobby today. He's supportive," Girardi said. "It's, 'Good luck, let's get 'em.' They don't change. He's very even-keeled."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.