New Look Pays Off at Top of Yankee Lineup

Lineup shuffle puts halt to offensive scuffle

It looked like a tough offensive week would continue through Thursday night's game against the White Sox.

The Yankees led 2-0 after four innings, but they hadn't figured out a way to get a hit off of Edwin Jackson to that point in the game. Jackson, who no-hit the Rays behind a plethora of walks in 2010, was following in the footsteps of his teammates who had held the Yankees to five runs in the first three games of the series.

Then, suddenly, everything changed. Brett Gardner homered, Eduardo Nunez doubled and the next seven Yankee hitters all got on base as the game turned into a runaway rout against Jackson and two hapless Sox relievers.

It was an impressive offensive performance under any circumstances, but a bit more so since the Yankees were doing it with a reshuffled lineup. Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter both sat, which meant the top three in the order were Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano.

The new spots in the order agreed with the trio. They were 6-for-11 with seven RBIs and Swisher hit his first home run of the season in the seventh inning.

Cano in the third spot was definitely a one-night thing, but could Thursday foreshadow a change coming to the top of the lineup for the Yankees?

It won't be immediate, because the Yankees have shown time and again that Jeter gets more rope than other players, but they have to make a change if he continues to be a shell of his former offensive self.

The point of hitters at the top of the order is getting on base to set up the run producers, and the Yankees simply haven't done enough of that early this season.

Gardner deservedly got dropped to the bottom of the order for his inability to make things happen offensively and they'll have to do the same with Jeter if he continues to be a drag on the offense.

That's not to say he should get benched -- Nunez's two errors on Thursday speak to Jeter's steady hand if not his range -- but there will be a point when sentimentality has to give way to winning.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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