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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Abbey Mastracco

Aaron Boone has decisions to make as Yankees look to climb back into ALCS

Aaron Boone is considering some lineup changes for Game 3 of the Yankees’ ALCS series against the Houston Astros. But he’s not showing his hand just yet.

With the Yankees down 2-0 to the Astros and the series moving back to the Bronx on Saturday, Boone spoke to the media Friday afternoon about the team’s search for offense. Teams who hit a lot of home runs typically win in the postseason but Houston’s pitching staff has limited the long ball and left the Yankees searching for answers.

Harrison Bader could be one of those answers, as the outfielder hit leadoff in Game 2 at Minute Maid Park on Thursday night. Without Andrew Benintendi or DJ LeMahieu, the Yankees have lacked a true leadoff man to put in front of Aaron Judge, but Boone seemed to like Bader, who has four home runs in the postseason, in that spot.

“Yeah, it’s definitely something I’m considering,” Boone said in a Zoom press conference. “As we try to find a way to score some runs, obviously, he’s putting together good at-bats, had a couple more good at-bats getting on base last night. So yeah, that’s something that I’m probably leaning that way.”

The bottom of the order has struggled to produce. Boone defended Josh Donaldson’s production (5-for-22) and downplayed concerns about a higher strikeout rate and a lower walk rate in the regular season, citing his six walks through seven playoff games.

“He’s, he’s got on at a 40% clip in the postseason so far, for all his struggles,” Boone said. “We need him to do something big within the series. We need to get that rolling. We’re up against a great pitching staff, top to bottom.”

Boone has not yet made a decision on whether or not Oswald Peraza will start at shortstop and there is also a question of how to deploy Giancarlo Stanton. Can he handle left field? Is his bat better if he’s not uncomfortable in the Yankee Stadium outfield?

The one thing the manager is locked into is his rotation for the next two games: Gerrit Cole will start Saturday against right-hander Christian Javier and Jameson Taillon will go Sunday against Lance McCullers Jr.

“That’s where I’m at right now,” Boone said. “Hard to imagine going any other way.”

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