Alex Rodriguez’s remarkable season seems to produce a different record in every game. His next accomplishment could be a personal best.
Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 52nd homer - a two-run shot - in the first inning Sunday as the Yankees completed a three-game sweep of Kansas City with a 6-3 victory.
It was the seventh homer in five games and ninth in 11 for Rodriguez, who appears well on his way to a third AL MVP award. He is batting .475 (19-for-40) with 17 RBIs and 12 runs in his last 11 contests.
“I’m enjoying it,” Rodriguez said. “It says a lot about the three guys who are hitting in front of me and the protection I’m getting behind me. The reason I’m getting pitched to is those guys behind me - they get a lot of respect. I just want to finish strong.”
Rodriguez has home runs in five straight games for the fifth time in his 13-year career.
Last week, A-Rod became the fifth Yankee since 1939 with at least 140 RBIs, passed Mel Ott, Ernie Banks and Eddie Matthews on the career homer list and set the major league record for home runs by a third baseman.
The Yankees (81-62) enter the final three weeks of the regular season 3 1/2 games ahead of Detroit in the wild card race, but five games behind AL East-leading Boston. New York—a major league-best 38-19 since the All-Star break—begins a three-game series Friday at Fenway Park.
“We’re here to get to the postseason,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “We want to win the division. We’re going to need help for that to be accomplished. But we’re playing well right now and we just need to make sure we pay attention every day.”
Although the hitters have provided more than enough support, Torre’s team has also received outstanding starting pitching lately. New York’s starters are 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA during the five-game streak.
Rookie Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.33 ERA) looks to keep that run going as he seeks his first win in six starts for New York. The 21-year-old right-hander had his best outing in more than a month Wednesday against Seattle, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings with two walks and six strikeouts. He did not receive a decision in the Yankees’ 10-2 victory, and remained winless since Aug. 10.
Hughes made his major league debut against the Blue Jays on April 26, giving up four runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-0 loss.
The Blue Jays (72-71) surrendered four ninth-inning runs Monday at Detroit in an improbable 5-4 loss, their third straight.
It was the second time in three games that Toronto’s bullpen squandered a three-run lead in the ninth inning.
Shaun Marcum (12-5, 3.74) seeks his eighth win in nine decisions for Toronto. The right-hander, who began this season as a reliever, did not record a win for only the second time in his last nine starts Wednesday at Boston. He gave up two runs and five hits in five innings in the Blue Jays’ 6-4 victory in 12 innings.
Marcum has pitched much better on the road, going 6-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 11 starts. In 11 starts at Rogers Centre, he is 5-2 with a 4.94 ERA.
Marcum is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees, including 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA in two outings this season.
Rodriguez is only 2-for-13 in his career against Marcum, but does have a home run.
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