The Yankees are behind by exactly one run in a game they exactly must win. There is a left-handed pitcher on the mound, with big platoon splits. The Yankees’ next scheduled batter is yet another left-handed hitter.
Yes, there are people who follow the New York Yankees, or work for the New York Yankees, or are paid good money to talk about baseball during national television broadcasts, who seem to believe, as one particularly irascible friend of mine puts it, “that Ibañez has some magical pixie dust than enables him to hit home runs at will, and that someone put the voodoo kibosh on Swisher and A-Rod that won’t go away until they each get two consecutive hits.”
Ah, there they are: Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez, our switch-hitter and our right-handed hitter, sitting on the bench. Both have been struggling lately, as you’ve no doubt heart. Swisher started for the Yankees in right field all season; he’s been benched. Rodriguez started for the Yankees at third base all season, and also made $31 million all season; he’s been benched.
Against those struggles, Joe Girardi might have considered this salient fact: Over the last two seasons, Raúl Ibañez has been gifted with 194 at-bats and posted a .206 batting average. With four home runs. Which is to say that against left-handed pitchers, Raúl Ibañez hits like a shortstop. A weak-hitting shortstop with a .236 batting average.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez and Swisher awaited on the bench.