NEW YORK -- Miguel Andujar's bat has pushed him into the American League Rookie of the Year Award conversation, but as his Yankees face elimination in Tuesday's Game 4 of the AL Division Series, the infielder will be watching at least the first few innings from the bench.Yankees manager Aaron
NEW YORK -- Miguel Andujar's bat has pushed him into the American League Rookie of the Year Award conversation, but as his Yankees face elimination in Tuesday's Game 4 of the AL Division Series, the infielder will be watching at least the first few innings from the bench.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone shuffled his lineup as the Bombers try to push the series back to Boston, opting to sit Andujar in favor of having switch-hitter Neil Walker man third base behind starter Carsten Sabathia. Andrew McCutchen is also on the bench as Aaron Hicks returns to the lineup in center field, with Brett Gardner sliding to left field.
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"I just wanted to get more lefty balance in the lineup tonight against [Red Sox starter Rick] Porcello," Boone said. "I feel like it makes sense to have that. Walk has played a number of games over at third with CC on the mound, too. I just feel like it gives us a little more balance in a matchup that makes sense."
Lefties compiled a .727 OPS against Porcello during the regular season, compared with a .672 OPS from the right side. Andujar, a right-handed hitter, has not shown a platoon split thus far in his MLB career, posting a .869 OPS against righties this year compared to .822 against lefties, but he is 1-for-9 in the ALDS thus far.
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Though the Yankees have remained bullish on Andujar's improving defense, Sabathia generates a substantial number of ground balls to the left side of the infield. As a result, Walker has started at third base in four consecutive Sabathia starts, and five of six.
"We like getting Walk in there, and on the day CC pitches, it makes a little sense to have him out there," Boone said.
Gardner is starting his third consecutive game, having filled in twice while Hicks was recovering from a tight right hamstring. Boone said that he believed the call was close between Gardner and McCutchen in left field, ultimately opting for the left-handed bat.
"I just felt like it was a pretty good matchup, and again, having another lefty in there," Boone said. "Cutch will come into play obviously later. I felt like it was a close matchup offensively against Porcello, and obviously what Gardy brings defensively."
About last night
Boone said that he had "a pretty [crappy] drive home" after the Yankees' 16-1 loss on Monday night in Game 3 of the ALDS, spending some of the time second-guessing himself for allowing a hittable Luis Severino to start the fourth inning. Severino did not record an out, leaving a bases-loaded, none-out situation for Lance Lynn.
"Certainly in hindsight, when [Severino] doesn't get an out, yeah, you'd like to have that back," Boone said. "But I really felt like we were going to make the move once we got to the top of the order. I felt like he had a chance to navigate the bottom of the order there. So that's what my decision to stick with him was [based on], and obviously that didn't work out. Being able to look back in hindsight, we'd go a different way there in that spot."
Boone reiterated that there were no issues with Severino's warmup. TBS' cameras spotted Severino reaching the bullpen mound at 7:32 p.m. ET, eight minutes before the scheduled first pitch, but all involved parties said that was not out of the ordinary for Severino. Boone said that he spoke with Severino and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to confirm there was no confusion.
"Now that I've kind of really dug in and spoken with both Sevy at length and Larry at length about it, I had no issue at how he warmed up," Boone said. "It was a little atypical in that it's a playoff game where you're having lineup introductions, so it's a little bit different.
"But as far as his routine and what he does to get ready, it was very much on par with what he always does, as far the pitches that he has in the bullpen, how he gets ready leading up to the bullpen, facing a couple of mock hitters with signs and everything. He did all that and then sat down before he went out, like he normally does."
Rounding third, heading home
Boone said that he has not seen nor heard any of the criticism of his Game 3 performance, but he knows it is out there, judging by the number of texts he has received telling him to "hang in there." To be safe, Boone said he tuned his satellite radio to The Bridge and '80s on 8 during his commutes to and from the Bronx.
"It was a soothing sound," Boone said.
This date in Yankees history
Oct. 9, 1996: Derek Jeter hits a controversial home run in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series at Yankee Stadium, as 12-year-old Jeffrey Maier reaches over the right-field wall and deflects the ball. Jeter's homer ties the game at 4-4 in the eighth inning before Bernie Williams walks off the Orioles with a homer in the 11th.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.