Yankees 12, Angels 4
NEW YORK (AP)—Alex Rodriguez’s teammates made him wait until the fans worked themselves into a frenzy worthy of a three-homer night. They clapped to the music and chanted “A-Rod! A-Rod!” until he finally stepped onto the top step of the dugout and raised both hands over his head.
Rodriguez’s biggest night with the New York Yankees was over a year in the making, and everybody at Yankee Stadium was in a celebratory mood.
Rodriguez hit three home runs in his first three at-bats and became only the 11th major league player with 10 or more RBIs in a game, leading New York over the Los Angeles Angels 12-4 Tuesday night.
“Definitely tonight was one of those magical nights,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve hit three home runs twice before, but nothing feels as special as this, doing it in New York, doing it in the pinstripes.”
Each of his home runs came with two outs against Bartolo Colon (3-2) in the first four innings and drew rousing ovations from the Yankees’ fans, who have been reluctant to embrace the $252 million star since he was acquired before the 2004 season.
“He hasn’t lived up to what he’s capable of doing,” manager Joe Torre said. “I think this is why it takes time. When he does something like this, he wants to duplicate it. Sometimes he expects too much of himself.”
He added a run-scoring single in the sixth off Kevin Gregg and finished one RBI shy of the AL record of 11 set by the Yankees’ Tony Lazzeri in 1936. The major league record of 12 is shared by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Jim Bottomley (1924) and Mark Whiten (1993).
Nomar Garciaparra had been the last player with 10 RBIs in a game, accomplishing the feat for Boston against Seattle on May 10, 1999.
“Right after I hit that last base hit up the middle, it felt like I was in the clouds—you just don’t want it to end,” said Rodriguez, the first player to have 10 RBIs in a game at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez hit the 11th grand slam of his career in the fourth inning after hitting a three-run shot in the first and a two-run homer in the third, all two-out drives. Coming in, he had been 2-for-13 (.154) this year with runners in scoring position and two outs.
His homer in the first, which followed two walks, landed over the 399-foot marker in left-center. When his long fly in the third landed in the Angels’ bullpen in left field, the crowd of 36,328 stood and cheered until Rodriguez appeared out of the dugout one pitch into the next at-bat.
The fans stood throughout his at-bat in the fourth and camera strobes flashed. Torre said “everybody in the dugout became a fan.”
Rodriguez worked the count to 3-2 and fouled off several pitches before hitting a drive off the front of the center-field bleachers, just beyond the 408-foot sign.
“It was a fun matchup, bases loaded, the fans going crazy,” Rodriguez said.
While Rodriguez walked to the plate in the eighth inning for his final at-bat, Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra,” played dramatically over the public address system. Rodriguez hit a hard liner to center and was again greeted with loud applause from the fans, who then began a quick run for the exits with a 12-3 lead. Rodriguez was given the ninth inning off.
Rodriguez’s performance overshadowed Carl Pavano’s first win in pinstripes. He pitched effectively for seven innings, often falling behind in the count but only getting into real trouble against a potent Angels lineup in the third when he walked two and gave up an RBI single to Vladimir Guerrero and run-scoring grounder to Garret Anderson.
Pavano (2-2), whose previous victory was at Toronto last week, gave up three runs and seven hits.
“When there’s runs on the board or not, I’ve got to make my pitches and stick to my plan,” said Pavano, who was disappointed by two walks he gave up in the third.
Colon had allowed just one run in 15 innings over two starts. Each of Rodriguez’s home runs followed bouts of wildness; Colon walked five in 3 2-3 innings and gave up 10 runs—five earned. Giving up the longball has always been a problem for Colon, but he had allowed just one in 27 2-3 innings through his first four starts this season.
“I made mistakes,” Colon said. “As good a hitter as he is, he took advantage of those mistakes. He was not chasing. He was sitting on my fastball very well.”
Rodriguez now has 388 homers, good for 46th place. … After stealing two bases Tuesday, the Angels have 11 stolen bases in last five games. … The Mets-Braves game drew 31,511. … Colter Bean made his major league debut in relief of Pavano. … Rodriguez hit two home runs and had six RBIs on April 18.