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Yankees bench A-Rod for must-win game against Tigers

By Steve Keating

DETROIT (Reuters) - Struggling sluggers Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson were left off the New York Yankees' American League Championship Series lineup for Thursday's do-or-die playoff game against the Detroit Tigers.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who had an extra night to think about the decision after Wednesday's game was rained out, opted to stick with the same starting lineup he originally penciled in given the offensive struggles of the duo.

"Our decisions aren't made on a whim, they are based on a lot of stuff that we see and information that we have," Girardi told reporters.

"Would I love to be in a position where I didn't have to make changes? Absolutely. But there's been some real struggles in our lineup and we had to do something."

Rodriguez, Major League Baseball's highest-paid player with earnings this season of $29 million, has gone 3-for-23 in the postseason, including 0-for-18 against right-handed pitchers.

The two-time American League most valuable player will be replaced at third base by Eric Chavez in Thursday's game against the Tigers, who will start right-hander Max Scherzer.

Brett Gardner will start in centre field for Granderson, who is 3-for-29 with 15 strikeouts in the postseason.

The Yankees trail the best-of-seven series 3-0 and are trying to avoid being swept from the postseason for the first time in 32 years.

"As I look at the series, I know we're down 0‑3 and there's a lot of what‑ifs, but it could be substantially different," said Girardi.

"We had some opportunities, so I feel good and you have got to go out and win a game today."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)