Alex Rodriguez’s(notes) return was clearly going to have a positive impact on the New York Yankees. Homers in four straight games while helping them win a season-best seven straight, though, seemed an unlikely scenario.
Rodriguez looks to help the Yankees extend their run Wednesday night when they continue a three-game set against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.
While his average is a far-from-impressive .194, Rodriguez’s presence has contributed to Mark Teixeira(notes) finding his stroke while Johnny Damon(notes) has continued to swing a hot bat. That combination has helped New York (22-17) average 5.9 runs during its streak.
“When you’re winning, there are a lot of good stories to be written,” said Rodriguez, who has seven hits - five homers and two singles - since coming off the disabled list May 8 following hip surgery.
Rodriguez’s homer was the 558th of his career, putting him five behind Reggie Jackson for 11th all-time. He has homered in five straight games three times, most recently Sept. 4-9, 2007.
“He’s been a huge part of this little run we’ve been on,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Batting .198 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 25 games without Rodriguez to protect him in the lineup, Teixeira is hitting .341 with six homers and 15 RBIs in 11 games - nine wins - since the three-time AL MVP’s return.
Damon, meanwhile, is batting .414 (24 for 58) with five homers and 16 RBIs in his last 14 contests.
Baltimore (16-23) managed only three hits off Sabathia and two relievers Tuesday after collecting four hits in Sunday’s 7-4 loss at Kansas City. The Orioles dropped to 5-12 away from home this season with their fifth straight road loss to the Yankees.
While center fielder and leading hitter Adam Jones(notes) (.366) returned to Baltimore’s lineup after missing four games with a strained right hamstring, shortstop Cesar Izturis(notes) sat out with strained groin and likely will not play Wednesday.
In what could be his final start in a while for the Yankees, Phil Hughes(notes) (1-2, 7.56 ERA) hopes to atone for a miserable performance in his last outing against the Orioles. With Chien-Ming Wang(notes) throwing 13 scoreless innings in two rehab starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Hughes is the pitcher likely to leave the rotation upon his return.
Hughes didn’t help his cause when he was reached for eight runs over 1 2-3 innings in a 12-5 loss at Baltimore on May 9. He was better Friday against Minnesota, yielding three runs in five innings before leaving without a decision.
Hughes is 1-2 with an 8.66 ERA in four starts versus the Orioles.
The best pitcher in a weak rotation, Jeremy Guthrie(notes) (3-3, 5.21) has struggled in the role of Baltimore’s No. 1 starter. He has allowed four runs or more in four of his last six starts with his team losing five times.
The Orioles were able to overcome five shaky innings from Guthrie to win his last outing, 9-5 at Kansas City on Thursday.
Rodriguez is 4 for 18 with a home run against the right-hander.
After outpitching Sabathia in a 10-5 win over the Yankees on opening day, Guthrie was on the losing end when New York’s ace threw a four-hitter in a 4-0 win at Camden Yards on May 8.