Girardi sticks with Swisher for Game 6

Girardi sticks with Swisher for Game 6

NEW YORK -- Given a chance to make a switch, Yankees manager Joe Girardi instead opted to stay the course.

Nick Swisher, despite struggling mightily in the American League Championship Series to date, was back in Girardi's lineup for Game 6, batting eighth and playing right field against the Angels.

"Swisher is not a platoon player," Girardi said. "Swisher has been an everyday right fielder that has put up good numbers for us. Yeah, he's struggled, but he's had some good at-bats. He had some good at-bats off of Saunders and we're sticking with him."

Through eight postseason games, Swisher has batted .103 with 10 strikeouts in 29 at-bats, reaching base at just a .212 clip. His struggles drew national attention in the ninth inning of Game 5 in Anaheim, when, facing erratic Angels closer Brian Fuentes with the bases loaded, Swisher popped up a 3-2 pitch to end the game.

Girardi admitted Saturday that he considered swapping Swisher out for Jerry Hairston Jr., before deciding that he would rather have a player who has received regular at-bats in the lineup.

"You think about your lineup all the time," Girardi said, pointing out that Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira both appear to have emerged from their own postseason slumps. "Johnny was scuffling and Johnny came out of it. Tex was scuffling and he had a huge hit for us. I didn't have a hit in the [1996] World Series until my triple in Game 6. Joe [Torre] didn't bench me, you know? Swish plays a good right field out there for us, he does. And it's not the easiest right field to play. He's had good at-bats against Joe Saunders."

Game 6 may not have been the ideal time to make a change, anyway. The switch-hitting Swisher is roughly equally proficient from the right side as from the left, and he has one home run in 21 career at-bats off Saunders. In Game 2 against Saunders, Swisher was 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored.

"The interesting thing about that is he has pretty decent numbers off of Saunders," Girardi said. "People were asking me if I was going to give up on Johnny Damon. Johnny Damon has turned it around. And Tex had a big hit for us."

It is easier for Girardi to endure a slump from one of his players, of course, when the rest of them are hitting. The Yankees have continued to put pressure on Anaheim's pitching staff despite the fact that the Angels are pitching extremely carefully to Alex Rodriguez, twice intentionally walking him in this series with two outs and no one on base.

AL Championship Series
Gm. 1 NYY 4, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 4, LAA 3 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 LAA 5, NYY 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NY 10, LAA 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 LAA 7, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 5, LAA 2 Wrap Video

That careful approach has put more pressure on the hitters behind Rodriguez -- one of the reasons why Girardi moved Jorge Posada into the fifth spot of the lineup. One of the team's hottest hitters, Posada -- who is 2-for-4 in his career off Saunders -- may be able to provide Rodriguez with better protection than the left-handed-hitting Matsui.

"Jorge has had good at-bats against Saunders as well," Girardi said. "And there are a lot of other guys in our lineup capable of winning games for us, and that's what we like about our lineup. Guys have had success. If they're going to pitch around Alex, guys behind him have to do the job."

The rest of the Yankees' lineup is as expected. Derek Jeter is leading off and playing shortstop, followed by Damon in left field, Teixeira at first base, Rodriguez at third base, Posada at catcher, Matsui at designated hitter, Robinson Cano at second base, Swisher in right field and Melky Cabrera in center.

That all may change, of course, if Game 6 is not played until Sunday. Heavy rains began to blanket Yankee Stadium roughly three hours before game time, furthering uncertainty that the Yankees and Angels would be able to play at all.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.