NEW YORK - A guy who homers twice in a playoff game figures to start the following night, but the Yankees' Raul Ibanez could be the exception.
Ibanez is 8-for-23 (.348) with a double, two homers and six RBIs lifetime against left-hander Joe Saunders, who starts Game 4 tonight for the Orioles. But he might be more valuable to manager Joe Girardi coming off the bench.
The Orioles would like to put him on the D train to Coney Island.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter chose Saunders over Chris Tillman, who hasn't been at his best in the Bronx. Saunders has only pitched here once, but he's got poor career numbers against a handful of their hitters.
Derek Jeter is 10-for-22 (.455) with a double and two home runs. Alex Rodriguez is 8-for-20 (.400) with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs. Ichiro Suzuki is 14-for-41 (.341) with two doubles and a triple. Robinson Cano is 5-for-18 with a double and triple. Russell Martin is 3-for-9 with a home run. Jayson Nix is 3-for-10 with three home runs.
Jeter says he'll play tonight despite pain in his left foot that caused Girardi to replace him in the ninth inning of Game 3. I don't think Jeter could outrun Matt Wieters with Jim Thome sitting on his shoulders, but the Yankee captain isn't coming out of the lineup.
It won't matter what Saunders does if the Orioles can't thaw out their bats. They're hitting .208 in this series.
Wieters is 1-for-13. J.J. Hardy is 1-for-12. Adam Jones is 2-for-13. Thome is 0-for-8. Manny Machado is 1-for-10, though his home run gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead in Game 3.
"If you want to say how somebody needs to hit, that goes for both sides," Jones said. "We need to step it up. We've got to get some base hits, get some guys on base. I know when I'm on base, Wieters hits a lot better. When CD (Chris Davis) is on base, me on base, Thome. We've got to create the runs. Right now, we haven't been able to do it. That's why you swing the bats.
"There's not one person in this clubhouse that is discouraged. You look up there, you're hitting under .200 right now with 10 at-bats, but no one's up there discouraged. You've got to keep swinging the bat. You've got to have that confidence that this shall turn, and we'll get it done."
Jones dropped a "shall" on us. He doesn't sound like a guy who's panicking.
Later tonight, will he sound like a guy who's preparing for Game 5 or a train ride back to Baltimore?