(Reuters) - The sputtering New York Yankees benched Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher for Tuesday's game against the Detroit Tigers in a bid to avoid being pushed to the brink of elimination in the American League Championship Series.
Eric Chavez was called up to replace Rodriguez at third base for Tuesday's game against the host Detroit Tigers while Brett Gardner will join the starting lineup at Swisher's expense.
"It's always a difficult decision when you have to do that," Yankees manager Joe Girardi, whose team trails the best-of-seven games series 2-0, told reporters.
"And we talked about the dimensions here, and we talked about fly-ball pitcher today and we had some guys struggling, so we decided to make some changes."
Gardner will bat in the leadoff spot and was inserted at left field while Ichiro Suzuki was moved to right field as the Yankees scramble to get back into the series after losing the first two games at home.
Rodriguez, who was also benched for the deciding game in the divisional series versus the Baltimore Orioles, is 3-for-23 with 12 strikeouts during the 2012 postseason.
Swisher has a long history of struggling against Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who is starting Tuesday's game, while Gardner has an impressive record.
"We're going to put a little bit more speed in there, and hoping that Gardy can ignite us a little bit and put some tough at-bats early in the game on Verlander and try to get his pitch count up," Girardi said.
(Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)