Studs & Duds: ALCS Game 2
Alex Rodriguez -- After tonight's game-tying smash to right field, can there be any doubters left? Years of so-called playoff failures are being eradicated in one splendiferous postseason. At this point, the Yankees are desperately dependent on A-Rod, and that is suddenly a wonderful thing. Could it be the influence of Kate Hudson?
Jerry Hairston, Jr. -- I must admit, I got a few chills watching Hairston frolic like a little kid after scoring the winning run in the 13th. It was just 10 weeks ago that he was sulking among the ruins of the once-proud Reds franchise, somewhere between Marge Schott and Pete Rose's gambling ticket. Now, he's forever a part of the Yankee annals. Well done, Jerry.
Mariano Rivera -- When a player is as exceptional as Rivera, fans tend to take outstanding performances for granted. Rivera was his usual otherworldly self, relieving Hughes in the eighth and shutting down the Angels for two more innings. Where would the Yankees be without Rivera, now or ever? When you look up "stud" in a thesaurus, Mariano Rivera ought to be the first entry -- on second thought, maybe he ought to close it out.
Honorable mention: A.J. Burnett, Chone Figgins, Joe Saunders, Kevin Jepsen, Erick Aybar.
Maicer Izturis -- There's no way Izturis can escape this list. Not when one of the most scintillating postseason games ever ends on your mishap. I hate to pile it on a guy who must feel horrendous right now, but Izturis' errant throw to second will be his crowning moment in an otherwise ordinary career.
Alfredo Aceves -- Aceves may have been spared the loss, but let's not let A-Rod's magnanimity allow Aceves anonymity. While it's understandable for a pitcher to allow a run, Aceves did so in the most inopportune of times. Bailed out in the headlines, but not in our Studs & Duds column.
Vladimir Guerrero -- Leaving eight men on base is a fantastic way to ensure inclusion on this list. Vladdy was starting to show signs of shaking off the postseason doldrums, but today's stinker effectively scraped off some of the good will acquired during Game 3 of the ALDS. Guerrero needs to find the zone again soon, or his swing-happy ways will go from rich-times to ragtime.
Dishonorable mention: Brian Fuentes, Kendry Morales, Bobby Abreu, Mark Teixeira.
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