A-Rod back at 3B? It almost happened

The Yankees nearly pulled off a third consecutive ninth-inning victory Friday night at San Diego to begin the 10-game, three-city trip that takes them to the All-Star break. They made a lot of noise but ended up one run short.

Had they been able to tie the score, it would have been interesting to see how the Yankees would navigated their way in the field in subsequent innings. Alex Rodriguez, for example, would have played third base for the first time since 2013. He was excited about the prospect and was wearing his glove as he stood on the dugout steps when Brett Gardner made the final out of the 7-6 loss.

Stranded at third base was Carlos Beltran, who was not supposed to play against the Padres because of a sore right hamstring. He was not needed to play in the outfield, but A-Rod was needed at third base because manager Joe Girardi had already used Chase Headley, Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder.

Rodriguez and Beltran had big pinch hits in the four-run ninth. Rodriguez singled home a run and eventually came around to score on an infield out by Aaron Hicks. After Didi Gregorius scored on a wild pitch by Brandon Maurer to make it a one-run game, Beltran doubled to left-center. Girardi considered using pitcher Masahiro Tanaka as a pinch runner but kept Beltran in the game. He hobbled to third base on a grounder to the right side by Jacoby Ellsbury before Gardner ended the rally.

The Yankees caught a break that inning because the day before the Padres traded closer Fernando Rodney, who was having a great season, to the Marlins. Matt Thornton, who pitched for the Yankees a couple of years ago, opened the gates by walking Brian McCann on four pitches and hitting Starlin Castro with a 2-2 pitch before yielding the single against the shift to Rodriguez. That was career hit No. 3,110 for A-Rod, who tied Hall of Famer Dave Winfield for 19th place on the all-time list. Winfield happened to be at Petco Park to witness the hit.

Prior to the ninth, the Yankees experienced a stretch of 18 batters in which only one reached base — McCann with a solo home run (No. 13) in the sixth. Their late rally was an attempt to atone for letting the game get out of hand early, which was due largely to another ineffective outing by Nathan Eovaldi.

The Yankees loaded the bases against Padres starter Colin Rea in the first inning but failed to score. San Diego responded in the bottom half with three runs. The key blow was a two-out, two-run double by Derek Norris. Eovaldi was hurt by the long ball once again as he gave up rookie second baseman Ryan Schimpf’s first career home run in the second and a two-run shot to Wil Myers in the fifth.

Eovaldi was strung for six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He is winless in six starts since May 29, a stretch in which he is 0-4 with a 9.20 ERA. The righthander has allowed 31 earned runs and 45 hits, including 12 home runs, in 30 1/3 innings in those starts, this from a pitcher who 10 starts into the season was 6-2 with a 3.71 ERA. That ERA has since climbed to 5.54.

In other developments, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes‐Barre outfielder Aaron Judge was named the International League Player of the Month for June. Judge batted .343 in 102 at-bats and led the IL with nine home runs, 30 runs and a .477 on-base percentage. He also finished among the top three with 25 RBI, 16 extra‐base hits, 70 total bases, 21 walks and a .686 slugging percentage.

Conversely, Nick Swisher has decided to leave the Triple A club. Swish, who played for the Yankees from 2009-12, was hoping to make a comeback after being released by the Braves in spring training. The Yankees have had openings at first base because of injuries, but Swisher never got the call.

The switch hitter batted .255 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 55 games for SWB. After watching Rob Refsnyder, Chris Parmelee and Ike Davis take turns at first base, Swish decided to go home and spend time with his infant daughter.

“I don’t think we would have signed him if we didn’t want to take a look at him,” Girardi told reporters. “We just felt some guys were ahead of him at the time, so he never was called. I respect what he did. He had another baby, so go and enjoy that.”

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