Rodriguez went 1-for-16 (.063) with 11 strikeouts at the end of New York’s 11-game road trip and was booed voraciously upon his return to Yankee Stadium. The All-Star third baseman, though, bounced back by going 9-for-24 (.375) with five homers and 11 RBIs in a just-completed homestand and even came out for several curtain calls.
“He kept working at it. He wasn’t quitting on anybody. It’s just great to see much more relaxed at-bats out of him,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Rodrguez’s struggles. “He can put numbers up like nobody, with his ability.”
Two of his five homers came in the Yankees’ 10-1 rout Sunday of the Minnesota Twins. Rodriguez hit a solo homer in the fifth inning and a three-run shot in the seventh as he reached 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the ninth consecutive season.
Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to a season-high 14 games with an eighth-inning double and scored twice for New York (81-54), which has won five of its last seven games. Darrell Rasner allowed one run in six innings for his first major league win.
Chien-Ming Wang (16-5, 3.66 ERA) looks to become the first 17-game winner in the majors and win his fourth consecutive start. The right-hander threw 7 2-3 scoreless innings, scattering three hits and two walks while striking out three in a 2-0 win.
“It’s like trying to hit a bowling ball,” Yankees pitching coach Ron Guidry said of Wang’s dominating sinker. “The sinker he’s throwing is so heavy, and it moves so late, that guys just beat it into the ground.”
Wang is 1-0 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts against the Royals. He allowed four runs and seven hits against them in a 15-4 win in May.
The Royals (51-87) will counter with Luke Hudson (7-5, 5.60), who has alternated wins and losses in his last five starts. Hudson has allowed a combined three runs in his two most recent wins, but given up a total of 17 runs in the two losses.
On Wednesday, he allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings of a 4-3 win against the Minnesota Twins, striking out five.
“I felt better as the game was going on,” Hudson said. “I felt like I was getting a little stronger. I didn’t have a whole lot of zip on the ball, so it was just a matter of trying to stay within myself.”
The right-hander is making his first start against the Yankees after being reached for four runs and five hits with three walks in 2 2-3 innings of a relief appearance on April 12.
Kansas City took two of three from the Chicago White Sox this weekend, including Sunday’s 7-3 win, marking the fifth consecutive time the Royals either won or split a series against a first or second-place team.
The Yankees have beaten the Royals in five of the six meetings this season, but have lost six of the last nine at Kauffman Stadium.