NEW YORK — Facing the prospect of going down 3-0 in the American League Championship Series, the Yankees are shuffling up their lineup.
Facing Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier, New York will lead off with first baseman Anthony Rizzo, move Harrison Bader down from the leadoff spot to No. 6, start Oswaldo Cabrera at shortstop, shift Giancarlo Stanton to left field and slide Matt Carpenter into the designated hitter role.
This is the third lineup from New York in the series. Manager Aaron Boone said the decision to put Rizzo in the leadoff spot stemmed from wanting a left-hander at the top of the order. Additionally, Boone wanted to space out the lineup’s three lefties: Rizzo, Carpenter and Cabrera, who is a switch-hitter.
« Just having three lefties in there today, just wanting some spacing with them because we haven’t had that typical leadoff hitter necessarily rotating that spot today against Javier with the three lefties, » Boone said. « More than anything, it’s just spreading them out a little bit and trying to have a little lineup balance. »
The Astros are largely sticking with the same lineup they used in Game 2, though Yordan Alvarez will play in left field rather than being the designated hitter. Trey Mancini will serve as the DH on Saturday for his first appearance of the series, and Christian Vazquez is replacing Martin Maldonado at catcher.
Boone said he went with Cabrera over Isiah Kiner-Falefa to add another left-handed bat in the lineup against Javier, who has allowed lefties to hit .189/.274/.318 while allowing righties to hit .147/.225/. 290 this season.
« [Javier] is especially tough on righties, » Boone said. « I just wanted to have the three lefties in there today. »
Boone was also encouraged enough by Stanton’s defense in Houston to feel comfortable playing him in left field in Yankees Stadium, which is more spacious in left than Minute Maid Park. Stanton has infrequently played in the outfield during the second half of the season after struggling with left Achilles tendinitis.
« Thought he moved around well out there in Houston. Obviously made a really good play out there, » Stanton said. « Seeing how he was after that game, which he came out of that feeling good, the next day felt good as well. I deliberated on it yesterday, I checked in with him just to make sure that he felt good about it. I told him I was considering it, he was all-in on it. »