Manager Joe Girardi benched Rodriguez for the second consecutive ALCS game and for the third time this postseason, again choosing to play Eric Chavez at third base instead of the three-time AL Most Valuable Player as the Yankees fight to live another day.
They made no changes to that lineup for Game 4 the following afternoon, though Rodriguez did come off the bench to pinch-hit -- a flyout to end the sixth inning.
"He has struggled against right-handers. This is not easy to do, and it's not what I necessarily want to do," Girardi said. "You'd like to have a steadfast lineup, but we have a lot of guys that are struggling. Sometimes you've got to make changes. We're trying to do what's the best thing to win games."
Rodriguez, not surprisingly, was not pleased by Girardi's decision.
"I've played this game for a long time and bottom line is, anytime I'm in any lineup, I think that lineup is better," Rodriguez said. "It has a better chance to win. I don't care if it's an All-Star Game.
"I feel I can bring that type of impact, and I'm also at any point ready to break through. I thought my at-bats in some of those games got a little bit better. The last two [in Game 3], I hit two rockets. Anytime I'm in the box, the game can change, and everyone knows that."
Girardi also opted to go without center fielder Curtis Granderson, who finished second in the AL with 43 home runs during the regular season, as Brett Gardner was slated to start in center field for Game 4. Granderson is 3-for-29 in the postseason.
Nick Swisher is in right field after sitting out for Game 3, batting second behind Ichiro Suzuki in New York's lineup against right-hander Max Scherzer. Gardner slid to eighth in the order after going 0-for-4 against Tigers ace Justin Verlander in Game 3 on Tuesday.
"Swish has had a couple hits in this series," Girardi said.
Girardi also chose Eduardo Nunez at shortstop again over Jayson Nix. Nunez hit a ninth-inning homer off Verlander after a nine-pitch at-bat in Game 3, accounting for New York's only run.
"Nuney has played well defensively for us," Girardi said. "He's had some plays in this series, and I really like his at-bats."
Rodriguez has struggled mightily, going 3-for-23 in the postseason, including 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitching. But he has hardly been alone, and Chavez hasn't exactly channeled his regular-season numbers either, entering Game 4 with an 0-for-14 mark in the postseason.
"His at-bats, I feel, have been pretty good," Girardi said. "You look at his at-bats off of Verlander last night; he got the barrel of the bat to the ball three times. You do have to look at those things."
Girardi said that he "thought long and hard about the lineup" and did not post it until he had a chance to talk to Rodriguez. Girardi said that he believes his relationship with A-Rod can survive the benchings.
"I think it's good," Girardi said. "I don't sense that there's a problem, but time's going to tell. The greatest marriages have went through rocky parts."