Notes: A-Rod's struggles continue

Notes: A-Rod's struggles continue

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez hasn't compared himself to any animals after two games of the American League Division Series, but his 2006 postseason has started in strikingly similar fashion as his 2005 playoffs.

A-Rod, who said he played like "a dog" after going 2-for-15 in the five-game ALDS against the Angels last October, is 1-for-8 (.125) with a single and four strikeouts in the first two games against the Tigers.

Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Thursday, including a first-inning punchout against Justin Verlander with the bases loaded.

"All I'm trying to do is go out and do the best I can," Rodriguez said. "We win as a team and lose as a team. My job is to contribute to a win, and I didn't do that today."

Since Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox, Rodriguez is 5-for-40, a .125 average. In his last 10 postseason games, he has not driven in a run for the Yankees. When asked if he was frustrated by his lack of production in the postseason, Rodriguez said he was still having fun, adding, "It's not over yet."

Manager Joe Torre said that he has no reason to think that Rodriguez is pressing at the plate, though the results may indicate otherwise.

"He's got such a great temperament, and I didn't see anything before the game that made me uncomfortable with the fact that he was pressing," Torre said. "I think just the fact that he had not got any hits, I don't think has anything to do with the fact that he's lost any kind of confidence."

For starters: Torre had no plans to announce his Game 4 starter until it was certain that the series would go that long, so after the Yankees' 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Thursday, he named Jaret Wright as Saturday's pitcher.

Cory Lidle will continue to serve as the long man in the bullpen, so he will be on call if Randy Johnson experiences any problems with his balky back on Friday night.

Close call: Gary Sheffield was involved in a scary play in the first inning on Thursday, colliding with Sean Casey on the first-base line.

Sheffield, who has been playing first base for about two weeks since returning from a severe wrist injury, was pulled off the bag by Derek Jeter's wide throw. Sheffield tried to tag Casey, but the two men collided, forcing the ball out of Sheffield's glove.

"I knew when he threw it that it was going to be close to the runner," Sheffield said. "The throw kept tailing, so I had to get off the base before the ball got by me. I scooped it and got ready to look up and protect the baseball, but before I did that, he ran into me."

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Sheffield removed his glove and held his wrist, and it appeared as though he was wincing in pain. Torre and team trainer Gene Monahan went to check on Sheffield, who remained in the game.

"That's the play that concerns me. That's the one I've always thought about." Sheffield said. "I could feel the blow. I mean, he's 230 [pounds], but I'm OK."

Johnny on the spot: Johnny Damon fouled a ball off his left leg in the ninth inning, catching himself just above the knee.

Damon walked out of the batter's box, where Torre and Monahan came out to check on him, but he finished the at-bat, flying out to center to end the game.

"It's got a little black-and-blue mark, but hopefully it doesn't swell too much," Damon said. "I should be ready to go by tomorrow."

Struggling sophomore: Robinson Cano had no problem avoiding a sophomore slump during the regular season, contending for the AL batting crown with a .342 average.

The postseason has been a different story, as he is 0-for-8 in the first two games of the Division Series.

"There are some pitches I'm just missing, and when I hit them, I'm hitting it straight at guys," Cano said. "I feel good at the plate, [the Tigers are] just a good team. It's going to come."

Hit machine: Derek Jeter's 5-for-5 performance in Game 1 gave him hits in each of his last seven postseason at-bats, one shy of the Major League record. He couldn't add his name to the record books on Thursday, though, as he popped up a bunt attempt in his first at-bat.

Jeter homered and singled in his final two at-bats of Game 5 against the Angels last October to start the streak, then had five hits on Tuesday night. In the seven at-bats, Jeter had two homers, two doubles, three singles, four runs scored and two RBIs.

The record of eight consecutive hits in the postseason is shared by Reggie Jackson (1977-78), Billy Hatcher (1990) and Miguel Cairo (2001-02).

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