The Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Thursday in the first game of their four-game series. The Yankees are now in first place with an 18-11 record and the loss by the Orioles moved them into a tie for last place in the AL East with the Boston Red Sox.
The highlight of Thursday’s game was that Alex Rodriguez hit his 661st homer of his career, which moved him into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time homers list. He had previously been tied for fourth place with Willie Mays.
A-Rod nearly had a three-run homer in the first inning, but Orioles right fielder Delmon Young robbed him of a homer, which led to Jacoby Ellsbury scoring on a sacrifice fly. Ellsbury extended his hitting streak to 10 games with his single to right center off of Chris Tillman to leadoff the game. During his hitting streak, Ellsbury has an outstanding .500 average (21-42) with eight runs scored, two RBIs and seven steals.
In the third inning, to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead, Rodriguez hit a homer that easily cleared the wall in center field. He came out of the dugout for a curtain call (after Joe Girardi gave him the OK) because the crowd gave him such a long ovation. The home run that A-Rod hit to tie Mays also gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. He has seven homers and 18 RBIs and has performed better than anyone could have expected.
“For me it was special to do it in front of the home fans at Yankee Stadium,” Rodriguez said after the game. “I didn’t expect to be in the middle of the lineup helping the Yankees win at this time last year.” He emphasized that he is grateful to Major League Baseball and his teammates for accepting him again and is happy to be helping the Yankees win baseball games.
There are two other milestones that A-Rod will achieve in the not too distant future. He currently has 2,962 hits, which means that he only needs 38 more hits to be the 29th player in MLB history with 3,000 career hits. He has 23 hits so far this season, and he will have those 38 hits by the end of June. He will pass Sam Rice and will tie Roberto Clemente once he hits his 3,000th hit.
After Thursday’s game, Rodriguez has 997 RBIs as a Yankee, which puts him in 13th place on the Yankees all-time list. He needs eight more RBIs to move into 12th place and 102 more RBIs to tie Don Mattingly for 10th most RBIs in Yankees history.
The Yankees would not have the 18 wins that they have without Rodriguez and he will be much more important to the team than many would have thought going into spring training. His .245 average is low, but if he can boost his average gradually up to the .260s while producing similar power numbers then it will continue to be hard for Girardi to take him out of the lineup.
Mark Teixeira, who also has a low average with impressive power numbers, drove in the two other runs. He hit a single to right to score Brett Gardner in the first and then doubled to right to score Gardner in the fifth. Teixeira now has 25 RBIs, which is tied for second most in the American League.
Nathan Eovaldi did not have his best stuff, but he was able to keep the Yankees in the game and pick up his third win of the season. He allowed three runs in 5.2 innings, which included solo homers to Jimmy Paredes and Caleb Joseph, who was the ninth hitter in the lineup.
“Eovaldi lacked command and had to really battle,” Girardi said. “He did a good job keeping us in the game when he didn’t have his A stuff.” A key play for Eovaldi was when he picked off Paredes at first in the fifth where the Orioles had runners at first and third with one out and the dangerous Adam Jones at-bat.
Adam Warren will make his sixth start of the season on Friday night. He has a 4.78 ERA and has been hurt by one bad inning in three of his starts. He will look to be consistent once again as he has allowed four runs in three of his starts and one run in two of his starts.