YANKEES 10, ROYALS 4
It seems like every swing Alex Rodriguez takes is monumental. After blasting the 599th home run of his career on Thursday night, that is now the reality.
Rodriguez’s solo home run off reliever Robinson Tejeda in the seventh inning not only put the veteran third baseman on the doorstep of history, it also gave the New York Yankees the breathing room to go on and defeat a stubborn bunch of Kansas City Royals.
Rodriguez ended the night 3-for-5 with two doubles, his 16th home run of the season and four RBIs.
CC Sabathia (13-3) was the winner despite being nicked for 11 hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings. Sabathia likely feels fortunate to have given up only four runs (three earned) while striking out nine batters.
Bruce Chen (5-4) took the loss, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks in six innings of work. Chen actually left the game trailing only 5-4 but the Yankees tallied an insurance run with A-Rod’s homer in the seventh and they added four runs in the eighth off rookie reliever Blake Wood to put the game away.
The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 60-34 and they gained a half-game on the idle Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East. They now lead the Rays by three games. The Royals fell to 41-54 on the season.
- Derek Jeter was credited with an inside-the-park home run when David DeJesus was unable to hold his deep fly just short of the center-field wall in the third inning. As DeJesus dropped the ball and fell to the turf, Jeter circled the bases for his ninth home run of the season and the second inside-the-park home run of his career. His first came on Aug. 2, 1996 against the Royals in Kansas City with then teammate Joe Girardi scoring ahead of him.
- Mark Teixeira entered the game 7-for-11 against Chen in his career with an amazing six home runs. Teixeira went 2-for-3 off Chen with a double, a single and a run scored. Teixeira added an RBI single off Wood in the eighth inning. He raised his batting average to a season-high .261.
- Rodriguez’s RBI barrage in July continues. The four RBIs on Thursday give him 24 RBIs in July and he is now second in the major leagues in RBIs with 78. His 3-for-5 night also raised his batting average to .275.
- David Robertson’s “Houdini-like” pitching has been nothing short of amazing. He eneterd the game in the seventh inning after CC Sabathia walked Jose Guillen and Wilson Betemit with one out. Robertson induced an infield pop off the bat of Mike Aviles and he struck out Willie Bloomquist to end the inning.
- Sabathia was not at his best and the Royals did not hit him hard. But they did hit half-dozen balls as if they hit them with wet newspaper. In the first two innings, Sabathia gave up three runs on seven hits. Base-running blunders cost the Royals more runs. Brett Gardner tossed out Betemit trying to stretch a hit into a double for the third out in the first inning. Because Guillen was not running hard to home on the play, Betemit was tagged out before Guillen reached home. In the fifth inning Gardner threw out Billy Butler at the plate trying to score on a Betemit single.
- Jorge Posada had a terrible brain cramp in the sixth inning. With Bloomquist on third on a balk and one out, Sabathia struck out Yuniesky Betancourt on a pitch that hit the dirt. Rather than throw Betancourt out at first, Posada threw to get Bloomquist and he threw the ball down the lefti-field line to allow Bloomquist to score. Posada also nearly overthrew Teixeira on another strike-three throw in the seventh inning. But Teixeira caught the high throw and beat Bloomquist to the bag to save a run.
- Gardner was the only Yankee starter not to have a hit in the game and his batting average dropped below .300. He is now hitting .296.
To honor former manager Ralph Houk, the Yankees wore black armbands on their left sleeve, just below the patch honoring late public-address announcer Bob Sheppard. Houke, 90, died at his home in Winter Haven, FL, on Wednesday. . . . DeJesus was removed from the game with a right thumb injury he suffered on Jeter’s inside-the-park home run. X-rays taken at Yankee Stadium revealed no broken bones but DeJesus, who is batting .318 on the season, likely will miss the rest of the series with a sprained thumb. . . . In the eighth inning the Royals pulled off a daring double-steal with Scott Podsednik and Jason Kendall with one out and Rick Ankiel at the plate. However, replays showed clearly that Podsednik was tagged out by Rodriguez before his foot reached the base. Third-base umpire Chad Fairchild, who was out of position behind Rodruguez, never saw the tag and called Podsednik safe. The Royals, however, did not score in the inning.
THE NEXT GAME
The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the Royals at Yankee Stadium on Friday. The Yankees will send to the mound inconsistent right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Burnett (7-8, 4.99) is coming off a terrible outing that lasted only two-plus innings because the veteran suffered cuts on both of his hands when he barged through the clubhouse doors. After a winless June, Burnett is 1-1 with a 3.45 in July. He is 2-2 with a 3.32 ERA in his career against the Royals.
Burnett will be opposed by veteran right-hander Brian Bannister (7-8, 5.65 ERA). In his last start against the Oakland A’s, Bannister gave up five runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked six and struck out two batters. Bannister is 1-2 with a 15.07 ERA in his career against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast by the YES Network.