Now that he’s ended the longest hitless streak of his career, Alex Rodriguez tries to snap his lengthy home run drought and reach the 500-homer milestone when he faces the team that allowed his 499th just over a week ago.
Rodriguez begins this weekend’s series at Yankee Stadium having just finished a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox with just two hits in 14 at-bats.
Both hits, though, came Thursday in New York’s 13-9 loss to Chicago, and his second-inning single snapped a 22 at-bat stretch without a hit.
“I didn’t try to do too much,” said Rodriguez, who hit home run No. 499 against the Royals in a 7-1 win July 25. “Back to work tomorrow.”
While Rodriguez failed to homer during the White Sox series, nine New York players did. Jorge Posada hit three home runs, while Bobby Abreu, Robinson Cano, Shelley Duncan and Hideki Matsui each had two. Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera and newly acquired Wilson Betemit also connected.
New York (58-50) scored 33 runs in the series, with eight coming in the second inning of Thursday’s game. That, however, only tied the game after the Yankees’ Roger Clemens lasted just 1 2-3 innings and allowing eight runs - three earned - and nine hits, all in the top of the second.
The combined 16 runs marked just the second time in history two teams scored eight or more runs in an inning. The first was May 8, 2004, when visiting Detroit got eight and Texas had 10 in the fifth inning of the Rangers’ 16-15, 10-inning win.
“One of a kind, that’s for sure,” Rodriguez said. “That was a long inning.”
The Yankees used five relievers Thursday, and having a weary bullpen places extra pressure on Friday’s starter Chien-Ming Wang (12-5, 3.61 ERA) to come through with a lengthy outing.
Wang has won his last two starts, including Sunday against Baltimore, when he allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings of a 10-6 victory. The right-hander won five of his six starts in July.
Wang is 2-0 with a 5.84 ERA in four starts against the Royals, with the Yankees winning each of those outings.
New York took three of four against the Royals last weekend in Kansas City, and has won 24 of the last 27 meetings in the Bronx.
The Royals (48-59) had Thursday off after the finale of their four-game series with Minnesota was postponed following Wednesday’s bridge collapse in Minneapolis. The Royals took Wednesday’s contest 5-3 in 10 innings, as Alex Gordon hit a game-winning, two-run homer.
The victory came several hours after the announcement that manager Buddy Bell will resign after the season.
“Buddy’s announcement kind of takes a back seat to what is going on in the city,” right fielder Mark Teahen said. “But there was a lot of emotion on this day.”
Kansas City, winner of five of its last seven, will open this series with Odalis Perez (6-9, 5.73) on the mound. Perez has alternated wins and losses in his last six decisions. He won his last start Saturday, allowing three runs and seven hits in six innings in a 6-5 victory over Texas.
The left-hander is 0-2 with a 9.26 ERA in two starts against the Yankees. He made his first start against them since 1999 on July 23 and allowed four runs and eight hits in seven innings of a 9-2 loss.