On Aug. 4, 2007, Alex Rodriguez(notes) hit the first pitch he saw from Kansas City’s Kyle Davies(notes) for home run No. 500. Almost three years later, the two will match up again as Rodriguez goes for his 600th.
Rodriguez will continue his pursuit for a historic milestone Saturday afternoon when the AL East-leading Yankees continue their four-game series against the Kansas City Royals.
Rodriguez went 2 for 4 with a strikeout and a walk in New York’s 7-1 win over Kansas City on Friday night, one day after he hit his 599th home run against the Royals (41-55).
“I thought his approach was very good,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I didn’t necessarily see him pressing tonight.”
The three-time AL MVP, who turns 35 on Tuesday, is trying to become the youngest player in major league history to reach 600. Babe Ruth, currently the youngest to reach the milestone, accomplished it at age 36.
As Rodriguez steps up to the plate Saturday, it will probably cause some flashbacks for Davies (4-6, 5.45 ERA), who will try to avoid giving up another historic shot to the Yankees third baseman. Rodriguez hit a three-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Davies for his 500th homer, becoming the youngest player to reach that mark.
“To me, it’s another ballgame,” Davies told the Royals’ official website. “I want to continue the path I’ve been going on. The last four games, I’ve been six-plus innings and given us some quality starts. That’s my main goal. If he hits 600, so be it. As long as we win the ballgame. This time, I’m going to be the one who wins the ballgame.”
However, Davies has struggled to keep balls in the park recently, allowing five home runs in his last four starts. He is winless since defeating Boston on May 28, going 0-3 with a 6.11 ERA in eight starts since.
The right-hander allowed three runs and a season-high 10 hits over seven innings of a 5-4, 10-inning win over Toronto on Monday.
Davies is 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA in two starts against the Yankees (61-34). He last faced them in 2008, giving up one run in 6 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory.
Rodriguez isn’t the only New York player he’ll try to cool off. The Yankees have won 13 of 16, scoring 27 runs in their last three games. They have opened a four-game lead on Tampa Bay in the East.
Mitre has been out with a strained oblique. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in two starts this season, pitching a combined 9 1-3 innings.
“Definitely, it’s going to be a tough loss for the next month, so I’m not trying to fill anybody’s shoes, especially (Pettitte’s) - they’re pretty big,” Mitre told the Yankees’ official website.
The right-hander made his lone start against the Royals in 2007, allowing six runs and 12 hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-2 loss.
Although Pettitte is expected to be sidelined until mid-to-late August, Mitre’s role as a starter may only be temporary as Arizona acknowledged Friday that the Yankees are one of the teams interested in trading for Dan Haren(notes).