Yankees stick to formula of success
From Jeter down, Girardi uses familiar lineup in Game 1
NEW YORK -- The Yankees spent Wednesday afternoon preparing to play the most important game to date at the new Yankee Stadium. Might as well go with what's worked.
Derek Jeter is leading off and Alex Rodriguez is batting cleanup in the Yankees lineup for Game 1 of the American League Division Series. It is a mimic of their most popular lineup of the season, which manager Joe Girardi scribbled out 15 times over the summer months.
After Jeter, who is playing shortstop, is Johnny Damon in left field, Mark Teixeira at first base and Rodriguez at third. Hideki Matsui is starting at designated hitter and batting fifth, followed by Jorge Posada at catcher, Robinson Cano at second base, Nick Swisher in right field and Melky Cabrera in center.
It is the most common lineup for an offense that scored 915 runs, pounded out 244 home runs and reached base at a .362 clip -- all of them Major League highs.
"Anytime you look up there and you have Jeter and Damon and Tex and A-Rod the first four hitters, and they're on your side, you feel pretty good," Wednesday's starting pitcher, CC Sabathia, said. "That's kind of the attitude I've taken all year where I'm not going to try and go out and do too much. I'm going to go out and try to put up zeros and get these guys back in the dugout as quickly as possible."
Jeter led the Yankees with a .334 batting average this season; Teixeira with 39 home runs and 122 RBIs. In his first season in New York, Teixeira credited much of his success to the presence of Rodriguez behind him in the lineup.
"I can take a few more risks this year," Teixeira said. "There are certain seasons where you look at your lineup and you say, 'Hey, I've really got to get the job done.' Maybe I have to walk to extend an inning because I'm not sure how many chances we're going to get. This lineup is so deep this year, I might take a few more hacks, might be a little more aggressive. If I don't get the job done, we have [batters Nos.] 1-9 that can get it done. It made it a lot of fun playing with that lineup this year."
In addition to their league highs, the Yankees also set a franchise record by hitting 136 of their 244 homers at home, the majority of them sailing over the right field wall.
Hours before Wednesday's Game 1, fierce winds whipped through Yankee Stadium in the direction of right-center field, snapping the flags atop the roof to attention. A wind advisory was in effect for the evening, warning of 30-mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph.
"Sometimes wind can play tricks with the ball," Girardi said. "The ball can carry a little bit different. If you don't get the ball up in the air, it doesn't really have a whole lot of effect. If you hit ground balls and line drives, it's not going to have a lot of effect. It's going to get a little bit chilly with that wind and sometimes that can affect the pitchers a little bit, but it's not going to be frigid, and that's always a concern."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.