The familiar environment of Yankee Stadium might be just what Alex Rodriguez needs to finally reach his latest milestone.
Rodriguez will again try for his 500th career homer as the Yankees open a three-game home series with the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
The All-Star third baseman went 0-for-2 with three walks Sunday, but New York (56-49) beat Baltimore 10-6 to avoid a three-game sweep. Rodriguez is 0-for-12 - including a groundout in a June 28 suspended game against the Orioles that was completed Friday - since hitting No. 499 in Kansas City on Wednesday.
Returning home could help Rodriguez, who has hit 20 of his major league-leading 35 homers at Yankee Stadium and one in each of his last two home games. Rodriguez, who turned 32 on Friday, is looking to become the youngest player in history with 500 home runs.
“It would help everybody concerned to get this thing over with,” manager Joe Torre told the Yankees’ official Web site. “He’s been increasing his (strike) zone for the last few days. It’s human. When you look at all the things he’s done, you put human on the back burner because he’s seemed so robotic at times.”
Rodriguez has two homers in 28 at-bats against the White Sox this season, including a grand slam, but none against Chicago’s scheduled Tuesday starter Jose Contreras. Rodriguez, though, is batting .400 (6-for-15) lifetime against the former Yankee.
While Rodriguez’s drought continued Sunday, Johnny Damon went 3-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs as New York snapped a three-game losing streak that followed six straight wins.
Cabrera is 9-for-18 with six RBIs in his last five games and is batting .384 (5-for-13) in his last three games against the White Sox.
Mike Mussina (5-7, 4.77 ERA) looks to win consecutive starts for the first time since May on Tuesday. He allowed one run and six hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 7-1 victory at Kansas City on Wednesday.
“I knew where the ball was going and got better counts,” Mussina said. “It felt good coming out of my hand.”
The left-hander is 15-16 with a 4.63 ERA in 36 starts against Chicago and 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in two starts against them this season.
The Yankees, eight games behind AL East-leading Boston and four back of Cleveland for the wild card, are 4-3 this season against the White Sox (48-57), who will be making their first trip to Yankee Stadium since being swept July 14-16 of last season.
Chicago’s 4-1 loss to Toronto on Sunday snapped a three-game winning streak, but the White Sox finished 5-3 on their homestand.
Right fielder Jermaine Dye, who continues to be the subject of trade rumors, homered for Chicago and went 5-for-10 with two home runs in the Toronto series.
“You don’t want to have to get on a plane and go all the way to New York and find out you’re gone,” said Dye, batting .400 (20-for-50) with two homers and eight RBIs against Mussina. “We will see what happens. Hopefully (I’ll) still be here.”
The struggling Contreras (5-13, 6.22) allowed nine runs and 12 hits in 4 2-3 innings of a 13-9 defeat to Detroit on Wednesday, dropping him to 0-6 with a 9.41 ERA since beating Florida on June 18.
“I’m trying to hit my spots and the ball is not moving,” Contreras said.
The right-hander is 2-3 with a 2.50 ERA in five starts against the Yankees, with whom he began his major league career in 2003. Contreras has lost both his starts versus New York this season, but has a 3.21 ERA in those games.