Blue Jays 7, Yankees 3
TORONTO (AP)—Alex Rodriguez enjoyed reaching some milestones that reminded him how good he is after a week of criticism.
“It’s cool that it came this week because in a week of so much criticism it’s good to get a little reminder that you do some special things in this game,” said Rodriguez, who has struggled in the field.
Later Friday night, the Blue Jays traded Shea Hillenbrand to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Jeremy Accardo. Hillenbrand was designated for assignment during Wednesday’s game after writing “play for yourself” on a board the Blue Jays use to post batting practice times. He later wrote the “ship was sinking” before manager John Gibbons challenged him to a fight during a team meeting.
Rodriguez’s three-run homer in the third inning off A.J. Burnett was also his 2,000th hit. A-Rod, who turns 31 next Thursday, is the eighth player to get his 2,000th hit before his 31st birthday.
“Four hundred fifty is something I’m proud of and 2,000 at the same time, it’s kind of unique,” Rodriguez said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it with a win, but I’m still going to enjoy it.”
A Yankees fan caught the ball and returned it to Rodriguez, who signed balls for the woman’s family. He also posed for pictures.
Ken Griffey Jr. was the previous youngest to reach 450. He was 31 years, 261 days old when he did it Aug. 9, 2001.
But Rodriguez continues to struggle defensively. He made a costly error on Thursday, and he failed to catch Vernon Wells’ popup in foul territory in the fourth Friday.
“I didn’t see it at all. Tough sky,” Rodriguez said.
Wells followed with a grounder to A-Rod, whose throw to first pulled Andy Phillips off the bag for an error. Frank Catalanotto, who had walked, took second and later scored on Troy Glaus’ sacrifice fly to make it 6-3.
Fans jeered and one fan held up a sign that read E-Rod.
“You got to put it behind you,” he said.
Manager Joe Torre said Rodriguez reached the milestone with flair.
“That was a laser beam. It’s remarkable. He’s still 30 years old and he has 2,000 hits and 450 homers. I’m sure he’s very proud of that, but I’m also sure that he’d rather do something on an everyday basis. We know he’s capable,” Torre said. “We need for him to do it.”
Glaus homered and had four RBIs and Burnett earned his second win for the Blue Jays, who have won the first two games of their four-game series against the second-place Yankees.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere with 40,000 people in the stands, that helps you lock in,” Toronto’s Lyle Overbay said. “We have these guys in front of us and we have to play well against them.”
Glaus hit a two-run single in the first, a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a homer off Kris Wilson in the eighth.
Burnett (2-3) allowed three runs and six hits while striking out six and walking one in 7 1-3 innings. Burnett, signed to a five-year, $55 million contract in the offseason, missed two months because of a sore elbow.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said they’ve been waiting all season to have a 1-2 combination of Roy Halladay and Burnett.
“Doc always pitches good, that’s a given. A.J., to get him back healthy, he’s doing what we expected and hoped for,” Gibbons said.
Scott Schoeneweis pitched 1 2-3 innings for his first save of the season and the third of his career.
Toronto jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first off loser Jaret Wright (6-6)
Reed Johnson led off with a double and scored on Catalanotto’s RBI single. After Wright walked Wells, Glaus hit a two-run single and Lyle Overbay added an RBI double.
Rodriguez’s homer cut it to 4-3 in the third, but Eric Hinske hit an RBI single in the bottom half.
Wright allowed five runs and seven hits in 2 2-3 innings.