Category: Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez’s 30th homer was not enough as the Yankees lost to the Orioles 2-1

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 on Tuesday night in a game that Masahiro Tanaka only allowed one run in eight innings pitched.

The score was 1-1 going into the ninth inning but reliever Chasen Shreve, who had a 1.86 ERA coming into the game and had not given up a run in his previous seven games, allowed the game-winning homer to Chris Davis, who now has 41 homers and 102 RBIs.

“It looked like it was a pitch that he left out over the zone,” Joe Girardi said. Girardi said that Shreve has been a big part of the team’s success this season.

Toronto’s 5-1 win over Red Sox in 10 innings combined with the Yankees loss pushed the Blue Jays lead in the AL East back to 1.5 games. The Yankees, who were tied with Toronto in the loss column and half a game behind overall, struggled on offense and that prevented them from keeping pace with Toronto in the division.

Tanaka, who had a season-high 10 strikeouts, had a perfect game through three innings and should have been able to win his 12th game of the season. He pitched well the few times that runners were in scoring position as J.J. Hardy popped up to 2nd with runners on first and third to end the fifth and he got Hardy to ground out to Didi Gregorius after Matt Wieters had doubled in the seventh.

The only mistake that Tanaka made was a pitch that Ryan Flaherty hit for a home run to right field in the sixth inning. That was Flaherty’s eighth round tripper of the season.

The Yankees only had six hits but one of them was Alex Rodriguez’s 30th homer of the campaign. Rodriguez, who has hit for more power than anyone could have predicted in spring training, hit his homer off of a Kevin Gausman fastball to the first row above the Budweiser sign in left field. A-Rod is now the only player besides Hank Aaron with 15 seasons with 30 or more home runs.

The Yankees were 0-3 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base. Brian McCann, who has 25 homers and leads the team with 86 RBIs, struck out swinging with runners on first and second with two outs in the fifth inning. Greg Bird, who has shown impressive power in his 23 games since being called up from Triple-A as he has five homers and 17 RBIs, ended the team’s scoring threat in the first with a strikeout with runners on first and second.

Zach Britton retired the side in order in the ninth inning, which included a Chase Headley ground out to end the game. A few players are in a slump right now as Stephen Drew, who was hitting very well, has three hits in his last 17 at-bats, Carlos Beltran has four hits in his last 22 at-bats and Jacoby Ellsbury has only four hits in his last 20 at-bats. The Yankees will need them to improve tonight and in their upcoming series against the Blue Jays.

The Yankees will try to win the series against the Orioles, who have lost seven of their last 10 games, with CC Sabathia pitching. Sabathia, who had been on the disabled list with a knee injury, has allowed two runs or less in two of his last three starts, which is not including the one that he only threw 2.2 innings after having to leave the game with an injured knee.

The Yankees will need Sabathia to give them length and effectiveness because Nathan Eovaldi has been shutdown for two weeks with elbow inflammation, which means he might not pitch again this season. His elbow injury might have caused Eovaldi to allow eight runs and 13 hits over 10.1 innings in his last two starts.

Wednesday’s game is at 7:05 p.m. and Ubaldo Jimenez, who has a 4.24 ERA this season, will get the start for the Orioles.

The Yankees need more production from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez going forward

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez.

After Thursday’s off day and losing two out of three games at home to the Houston Astros and previously losing three out of four games to the Cleveland Indians, who are six games below .500 and were in last place in the AL Central when they faced off, the Yankees will now play an important three-game inter-league series in Atlanta against the Braves.

The Yankees, who went 5-5 on their home-stand against the Minnesota Twins, Indians and Astros, are now 1.5 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. Toronto has gone 7-3 in their last 10 games and their +170 run differential is 40 runs better than the St. Louis Cardinals, who have the second best run differential in Major League Baseball. The Yankees play seven more games left with the Blue Jays before the end of the season, which could go a long way in deciding who wins the AL East, but their upcoming six-game road trip against the Braves and Boston Red Sox will be very important.

Atlanta and the Red Sox are a combined 30 games under .500, which means that the Yankees need to take advantage of them since they are obviously not going to the playoffs this season. Atlanta has a 54-73 record, has only one win in their last 10 games, is 17 games out of first place in the National League East and has scored the fewest runs out of any team in either the American or National League. Boston has a 58-69 record, is 13 games back in the AL East and their -41 run differential is fourth worst in the AL

Atlanta’s season long ineptitude in the run scoring department could help the Yankees during this series because they have been struggling to score recently. The Yankees have only scored 38 runs in their last 10 games, which equals an average of only 3.8 runs per game. In comparison, in the 10 games from July 25-August 4, the Yankees scored 90 runs, which is an average of a very impressive nine runs per game.

The Yankees offense has had many of their regulars not produce like normal during the month of August. Alex Rodriguez, who has 26 homers and a .255 average, has a very low .138 average in 80 August at-bats with only eight RBIs. Mark Teixeira, who has not played in seven of the previous nine games because of a bone bruise, has a .175 average in 57 at-bats with three homers and only six RBIs.

A-Rod and Teixeira are the two main players that the Yankees need to improve their average and drive in more runs if they are going to get back in first place and win the AL East. Teixeira and A-Rod are first and third on the team in RBIs, with 79 and 69, respectively, and are first and second in homers with 31 and 26, but they have combined to only drive in 14 runs in August and their averages are both below .200.

Also, Brett Gardner has a .193 average with only one double in August, Stephen Drew has a .217 average in 60 August at-bats and Brian McCann has a .219 average in 73 at-bats in August, but McCann has been productive power wise as he has hit six homers and has 15 RBIs during the month. Part of the struggles could be due to age and not being able to continue the same level of production the whole season. The offense needs to bounce back after the off day and with the inferior teams on the schedule.

One player who could help offensively is Rob Refsnyder. It was announced by Brian Cashman that Refsnyder will be one of the September call-ups. In 504 plate appearances with Triple-A Scranton, Refsnyder has hit .269/.360/.396 with nine homers, 11 steals, 24 doubles and 53 RBIs. That is better production than Drew, who only has a .196 average and a .266 on-base percentage and 36 runs scored to the 64 that Refsnyder has. However, Drew does have 15 homers to Refsnyder’s nine and Drew does play better defense at second.

It will be a positive to have Refsnyder’s bat on the bench and to start some games instead of Drew. The Yankees will also be able to call-up a few pitchers who already have experience out of the bullpen this season, which will make it easier to go to a six-man rotation to give the pitching staff more rest.

The Yankees are 6-8 so far this season in inter-league play, so they will look to at least be 8-9 in games against the National League at the end of this series against the Braves in Atlanta. The Braves have rookies pitching in the first two games and then Julio Tehran, who has 15 wins, will get the start in the series finale on Thursday.

The lineup for this afternoon’s series finale against the Minnesota Twins

Alex Rodriguez.

Alex Rodriguez.

The Yankees beat the Minnesota Twins, 8-4, on Tuesday night and Alex Rodriguez broke out of his slump with what ended up being the game-winning homer. Rodriguez was 1-23 going into his at-bat in the seventh inning, but he was able to hit his most clutch hit of the season as his grand slam off of J.R. Graham gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead.

Rodriguez hit his 25th career grand slam, which is the most in baseball history. Chase Headley, Brendan Ryan and Brett Gardner were on base when Rodriguez moved two above Lou Gehrig for most grand slams all-time. That hit that gave the Yankees the lead for good was only his third hit in his last eight games, and it was his first game with more than one RBI since July 25. Part of the reason that he did not have more than one RBI in a game since then was that Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury had been struggling, but Rodriguez had obviously not been hitting as well.

In the fourth inning, Greg Bird singled to right to score Carlos Beltran to give him his first big league RBI. He singled again in the eighth inning, which gave him his first MLB multi-hit game. He now has four hits in 14 at-bats, which is good for a solid .286 average. The Yankees tacked on three more insurance runs in the eighth as Chase Headley’s double scored Bird and Didi Gregorius and Ellsbury’s single to right scored Headley.

CC Sabathia was not as effective as he was in his previous two starts when he allowed three runs combined, but he was able to give the team length after the bullpen had to pitch 8.1 innings on Monday. Sabathia pitched 6.2 innings while allowed four runs on five hits and three walks. He got into trouble in the seventh since he allowed three runs including Miguel Sano’s two-run homer to left.

The bullpen and offense picked him up after he was taken out of the game. Nick Rumbelow, who recorded his sixth consecutive scoreless appearance, recorded the third out of the seventh, and ended up picking up his first win. Andrew Miller, who threw 13 of his 15 pitches for strikes, only allowed one hit and struck out three in 1.1 innings in saving his 27th game of the season. The bullpen as a whole (Justin Wilson pitched between Rumbelow and Miller) threw 2.1 scoreless innings while striking out four and allowing two hits.

The Yankees have won the first two games of the series against the Twins and have won five of their last six games overall. They are one game ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East. The Blue Jays have also won two games in a row.

Bird will get the start at first base again today and will continue playing as long as Mark Teixeira is out of the lineup with a severe bone bruise in his leg. It is not known when Teixeira will return.

“(He’s) not really a whole lot better,” Girardi said. “We know it’s day to day, and hopefully one day he’ll come in turn the corner. But he’s got a pretty good bone bruise.”

The Yankees will look to sweep the Twins with Nathan Eovaldi pitching. Due to his improved cutter, Eovaldi has been very good the two months. In his last 10 starts, Eovaldi is 7-0 with a 3.22 ERA and has lowered his ERA from 4.95 to 4.26.

“We’ve just seen a growth in him, and he’s a much more complete pitcher than when we got him, and the development of his split, and ability to mix his other pitches has helped,” Girardi said.

Brian McCann will get the day off because it is a day game after a night game. He will be available to pinch hit later in the game. Here is the lineup for today’s afternoon game against the Twins:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Alex Rodriguez DH
Carlos Beltran RF
Greg Bird 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Didi Gregorius SS
Stephen Drew 2B
John Ryan Murphy C

Alex Rodriguez had five RBIs as the Yankees routed the Detroit Tigers 14-3 on Old-Timers Day

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Willie Randolph and Mel Stottlemyre, who both received plaques in Monument Park on Saturday, both wore No. 30 as a Yankee, which makes it fitting that Nathan Eovaldi (No. 30) got the start against the Tigers since he is No. 30 as well. He made them proud as he only allowed one earned run in six innings in the Yankees 14-3 win over the Detroit Tigers, which was a complete turnaround from his previous start.

Randolph was overjoyed that he got a plaque in Monument Park after growing up in Brownsville, Brooklyn. “It is all about my legacy,” Randolph said. “They embraced me. I grew up in this town. Thurman Munson taught me how to be a winner. I grew up learning the Yankee way. We felt like we were part of the legacy and wanted to teach the young kids how to lead.”

Randolph was a 5-time All-Star as a Yankee (six overall), won two World Series as a player with the Bronx Bombers, four as a coach and had a .276 career average (.373 on-base percentage) with 1,239 runs scored, 2,210 hits & 271 steals. He played 13 of his 18 major-league seasons with the Yankees.

He was surprisingly fired as manager of the Mets in 2008 and pointed out in his speech that when he walks the streets, “Cabbies yell at me, “Willie, you got a raw deal with the Mets! They gave you a raw deal!”

Randolph said that he almost quit when he was in Double-A and told his mom that he wanted to come home to Brooklyn. His mom told him that she would pick him up at the train station but that she didn’t raise a quitter. This made Randolph reconsider quitting and led to him getting to the major leagues.

At the end of spring training in 1996, some in the Yankees front office were not convinced Derek Jeter could be the everyday shortstop, so they were close to trading Mariano Rivera to the Seattle Mariners for a shortstop prospect named Felix Fermin, but Randolph convinced Steinbrenner not to make this trade with the Mariners because he thought Jeter deserved a chance. Randolph obviously made the right call because the Yankees would not have had their dynasty without Rivera and Jeter.

The Yankees lived up to their Bronx Bombers nickname as they scored one or more runs in all but two innings. They slugged five home runs and tied a season-high with 14 runs. They have averaged eight runs a game during their current four-game winning streak after previously losing five of six games when they scored four runs or less in every loss.

Alex Rodriguez was 2-3 with a homer and five of the 14 RBIs and Carlos Beltran had his first multi-homer game since 6/15/2013 when he played for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In reference to A-Rod’s five RBIs, Brett Gardner said, “Our job at the top of the order is to get on base for A-Rod and he makes it seem easy.”

To leadoff the scoring, Rodriguez, grounded into a fielder’s choice in the first to score Gardner. Didi Gregorius hit a homer to the first row in right field to lead off the second inning. That was his fourth homer of the season.

Brian McCann grounded out to first with the bases loaded to end the second after Rodriguez’s sacrifice fly scored Stephen Drew. Defensively, to lead off the sixth inning, Gregorius made an outstanding barehanded play to just barely get Jose Iglesias out at first.

Beltran hit a two-run homer into the bleachers above the DKNY sign in right center field to start the third inning. That was his sixth homer of the season and his fourth hit in his last 11 at-bats (.364). Chase Headley had an RBI single through the infield to right to drive in Chris Young in the third. Alex Rodriguez hit a deep three-run homer with two outs in the third for his 3,001st hit. That was the team’s ninth hit in the first three innings.

Beltran smashed his second homer of the game in the fourth inning to give the Yankees a 9-0 lead. The first time he hit one batting left handed and he hit this one above the US Trust sign in right while batting from the right side of the plate.

“We just need to approach it the same way we have been doing, putting good at-bats together,” Beltran said. “We are going to have streaks when we play good baseball and when we don’t, but over last four days we have been hitting and pitching well.” Beltran has hit .296 with seven homers in May in June after having a .162 average at the end of April. This proves that he has a lot left in the tank.

By the time the third inning ended, Brett Gardner, who is fourth in the AL in runs scored (49) and second in steals (15), was a homer away from cycle as he already had a single, double and a triple. He also made a great leaping catch against the wall in left center to get Yoenis Cespedes out to leadoff the fifth.

“Gardner has been really good,” Joe Girardi said. “A lot of times we score a lot of runs and he creates a lot of havoc on the bases. I wanted to pull him out of the game but because he had the opportunity (to hit for the cycle) we left him in there.”

The Yankees scored seven earned runs in 2.2 innings against Alfredo Simon as his slow pace did not work to his advantage.

Detroit, who was losing 13-3 in the eighth inning, had shortstop Josh Wilson pitch, and Young blasted a homer to right for his second RBI of the game and eighth homer of the season.

Nathan Eovaldi rebounded very well as in his previous start he became the only pitcher in Yankee history to allow nine hits and not pitch an inning. Eovaldi’s fastball, curveball and splitter were all much better than in his previous start in Miami. Eovaldi had four strikeouts, allowed a season-low three hits and retired the side in order in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings.

Brian Mitchell, who was called up from Triple-A on Friday, recorded the final nine outs and struck out Andrew Romine to end the game.

The Yankees will have the pitching advantage on Sunday afternoon as Mashiro Tanaka has a 2.49 ERA in his seven starts and Anibal Sanchez has a 4.65 ERA in his 14 starts.

Pitching matchups for the series between the Yankees and the Tigers

The Yankees (36-30, one game out of first in AL East) begin a three-game series tonight at Yankee Stadium against the Detroit Tigers. After Alex Rodriguez’s two hits last night, he is only one hit away from 3,000 for his career. He has a .357 career average with four homers in 28 at-bats against Tigers starter Justin Verlander.

Brian McCann will get the night off and back-up John Ryan Murphy will start instead of him. The Yankees lineup will not be as deep, but Mason Williams, who had two doubles last night, is hitting well at the bottom of the lineup.

Here are the pitching matchups for the series against the third place Tigers (34-32):

RHP Adam Warren (4-4, 3.78)
RHP Justin Verlander (0-0, 3.60)
7:05 p.m., YES Network and MLB Network

RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-2, 5.12)
RHP Alfredo Simon (7-3, 2.58)
7:15 p.m., YES Network

RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 2.49)
RHP Anibal Sanchez (5-7, 4.65)
1:05 p.m., YES Network

A-Rod got hit 2,998 and 2,999 in the Yankees 9-4 win over the Miami Marlins in the Bronx

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees (36-30, one-game out of first place) had 15 hits in their 9-4 win over the Marlins on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Two of those 15 hits came off of Alex Rodriguez’s bat, which now gives him 2,999 for his career.

The Yankees won their 15th come from behind game of the season. Rodriguez’s single in the first drove in Brett Gardner in for the first run of the game.  He was very thankful when the fans cheered for him after each at-bat. “I think their support has helped me play a lot better.”

“He is a guy who we look to for guidance and we missed him last year,” Gardner said in reference to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s single in the fifth gave him 2,999 and it appeared that they would score a few runs that inning. Mark Teixeira doubled to right to advance Rodriguez to third, but Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran were retired by Mat Latos. The Marlins had a 5-1 lead at the end of the fifth as the Yankees were 1-9 with runners in scoring position at that point, but the offense really improved going forward.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a homer to left in the top of the sixth off of CC Sabathia in what was his major-league leading 25th home run.

In the sixth inning, Mason Williams (.263) hit his second double of the game and then was driven home when Brett Gardner hit a homer to right center. In the seventh inning, Carlos Beltran, who is hitting .316 in the last seven days and a solid .294 in May and June, hit a long two-run homer over the State Farm sign in left to give the Yankees a 5-3 lead.

“Mason has made some nice little adjustments,” Girardi said about Williams’s performance at the plate.

In the eighth inning, the Yankees scored four runs to put the game away. Sam Dyson walked Rodriguez on four inside fastballs nearly hitting him, which put runners on first and second. The crowd booed Dyson because they wanted Rodriguez to have a chance at 3,000. McCann singled up the middle to score Chase Headley, Rodriguez’s then scored on Dyson’s wild pitch that went to the McDonald’s sign behind the plate and Chris Young doubled to deep left to score McCann.

With Vin Mizarro pitching, Stephen Drew, who was the only Yankee without a hit, hit a sacrifice fly to score Young for the team’s ninth run.

“We had a ton of opportunities early on and were just not able to cash in,” Joe Girardi said. “We were able to tack on four more so you don’t have to use Dellin tonight.”

CC Sabathia got the start for the Yankees and allowed three runs in six innings, while striking out seven and not walking anyone. He has now allowed three runs or less in three of his previous four starts. With Sabathia’s strikeout of Adeiny Hechevarria in the fourth, he passed Christy Mathewson for 30th place on the all-time strikeouts list.

He would have liked to have pitched seven innings, but he realizes that he can’t consistently pitch that deep into games anymore. Sabathia had a perfect game through three innings before Dee Gordon’s triple to lead off the fourth.

“It’s good,” Sabathia said. “I go out there as hard as hard I can until I am done. It is just frustrating for me that I can only give him six innings at a time.”

“He did a good job, to limit them to three runs against a team that hits well against lefties, he did a good job,” Girardi said.

Didi Gregorius made an outstanding play in the ninth when he dove past second to stop the ball and then flipped it behind his back for the force out at second. The Marlins tacked on a run in the ninth off of Chris Martin, but he would strikeout Gordon on a 94mph fastball to end the game.

After sweeping the two-game set against the Marlins, the Yankees will continue their homestand with a three-game series against the Detroit Tigers (34-32). More people will be paying attention to tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game than normal because Rodriguez might get hit No. 3,000 against former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. Rodriguez has hit .357 (10-28) in the regular season against Verlander, who is making his second start of the season.

Garrett Jones will get the start in right field against his former team

Garrett Jones.

Garrett Jones

On Sunday, Joe Girardi said that Alex Rodriguez will not start the two games in Miami since there is no DH in the National League, which means that he will only have pinch-hitting opportunities to get closer to 3,000 hits. He currently has 2,995 hits and is five hits away from tying Roberto Clemente to become the 29th baseball player in the 3,000 hit club.

Garrett Jones will be back in the lineup in right field tonight after previously playing all three games of the series against the Baltimore Orioles. He has been a back-up this season and is playing in place of Carlos Beltran for the second game in a row. Jones, who has a .300 batting average (6-20) in his last nine games with two homers and six RBIs, will be playing in his first game against his former team. Jones played for the Marlins during the 2014 season and hit 15 homers with 53 RBIs.

Mark Teixeira, who has Brian McCann hitting in front of him instead of Rodriguez, is on a five-game hitting streak with three two-hit games in his last five. This hitting streak has raised his average from .237 to .256. His 17 homers, 47 RBIs and .571 slugging percentage has given him the fourth most votes among first basemen for the All-Star Game in the American League.

The Kansas City Royals players led eight of the nine positions in the American League All-Star Game voting update that was released on Monday. The one that makes the least amount of sense is that Omar Infante, who has arguably been the worst second baseman in the AL, currently has more votes than any second basemen. Brian McCann’s 1,154,530 votes are the fourth most among catchers and Rodriguez’s 1,176,506 votes are the fifth most among designated hitters.

This is the lineup for tonight’s game against the Miami Marlins:

Brett Gardner LF

Chase Headley 3B

Brian McCann C

Mark Teixeira 1B

Garrett Jones RF

Stephen Drew 2B

Didi Gregorius SS

Mason Williams CF

A-Rod moved into sole possession of second place on the RBIs list as the Yankees held off the Angels

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night, 8-7, for their fourth consecutive win. The game ended up being a lot closer than it should have been since the Yankees were winning 8-1 going into the ninth inning.

Alex Rodriguez passed Stan Musial to move into eighth place on the all-time runs list and his single to right in the fifth that drove in Brett Gardner moved him into sole possession of second place on the all-time RBIs list with 1,997. He passed Barry Bonds and now only trails Hank Aaron (2,297). Rodriguez also had his first four-hit game since he did so in 2011 against the Mets.

It seemed like they would coast to a win after the offense scored eight runs and three pitchers had success in the first eight innings, but Esmil Rogers proved to be unreliable again.

Rogers, who has a 6.39 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP, came into the game to start the ninth and allowed all five batters that he faced to reach base. He allowed a single, a double, a single between first and second that should have been caught, a walk and then a single to Kole Calhoun that drove in Taylor Featherston for the second run of the inning.

Rogers said that he had trouble recovering from when Grant Green’s single that should have been caught landed between Jose Pirela and Chase Headley. Headley moved to first in the ninth because the Yankees had an 8-1 lead, and Mark Teixeria likely would have made the catch, but Rogers should have been able to put that play behind him.

Dellin Betances came in with the bases loaded and allowed his first earned run of the year. He said that he started to think too much and appeared to get frustrated when he allowed a single to the first batter he faced. Betances, after having impeccable control since the second week of the season, walked the next two batters he faced.

After Johnny Giavotella grounded into a fielder’s choice to score David Freese, Betances struck out Carlos Perez to end the game. After allowing his first earned run, Betances now has an ERA of 0.30.

Nathan Eovaldi pitched very well in the first five innings as he held the Angels scoreless up until that point, but he lost his command in the sixth and couldn’t pitch as long as Joe Girardi would have liked. He walked the bases loaded while recording one out in the sixth, and Chasen Shreve bailed him out by only allowing one run to score.

Eovaldi ended with a line of line of 5.1 innings, four hits and four strikeouts. He threw 53 of his 93 pitches for strikes, which caused him to not be able to pitch six innings. However, he got all of his strikeouts on the splitter, and it is a positive sign that he is relying more on that pitch. Eovaldi is now second on the team with his five wins.

“I would have liked to have gone deeper into the game,” Eovaldi said. “Going into the sixth I felt fine. The walks killed me. Overall, I felt really good about the outing. I attacked the hitter well until the sixth.” He also added that the splitter adds a swing and miss pitch.

Mark Teixeira and Stephen Drew were the two Yankees who drove in more than one run. Teixeira, who is second in the AL with 17 homers, hit a homer in the third to drive in Brett Gardner. Drew, who is 5-14 (.357) in his last four games after previously going 0-17, hit a two-run homer in the second and a solo homer in the sixth. Drew, whose homer in the sixth was his seventh of the season, is now tied for the third most homers among second baseman in the AL.

In the sixth inning, Didi Gregorius hit a sacrifice fly to score Brian McCann, and in the seventh inning, Chris Young hit a single to shallow right to score Rodriguez for what ended up being the winning run. Gregorius, who was 0-2 and drove in his first run in his last 10 games, has three multi-hit games in his last five games.

Gregorius made an error in the second with a runner passing in front of him but redeemed himself in the ninth by making a game saving play by making a catch in the hole to get the runner out at second.

The Yankees will look to extend their winning streak to five games with a win on Saturday night. Adam Warren will get the start and has allowed two runs or less in his previous three starts.

A-Rod moved into 3rd place on the all-time RBIs list during Wednesday’s win over the Royals

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees swept the three-game series from the Royals, who had the best record in the American League before the series began.

Michael Pineda rebounded from his two shaky starts after striking out 16 batters on Mother’s Day. He pitched 6.2 innings while only allowing one earned run and striking out eight. Pineda had much better command of his slider on Wednesday against the Royals than he did in his previous two starts where he allowed four and five earned runs. The only run that Pineda allowed was a solo homer to Mike Moustakas in the first inning.

Pineda now has six wins (2nd in the AL), a 3.36 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP (10 in the AL) and 67 strikeouts (4th in the AL). He was able to pitch like the ace of the staff that he is and help the Yankees sweep the Royals, who have the best team average in the AL.

A mechanical adjustment that Pineda said that he made was that he tried to stay back and keep his arm up to improve his slider. According to Pineda, he was able to not get out in front too quick like he had in his previous starts. When Pineda’s slider is on he is one of the best starters in baseball.

Brian McCann hit his sixth homer of the season in the second inning, but more significantly, Alex Rodriguez hit a home run in the third inning against Chris Young that scored Chase Headley and Brett Gardner to give the team all the runs that they would need. That homer was his 665th of his career, and increased his career total to 1,995 RBIs.

He is now behind only Barry Bonds (1,996) and Hank Aaron (2,297) on the all-time list, and now has two more RBIs than Lou Gehrig, which means that he has the most RBIs in the history of the American League, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. After his two hits last night, A-Rod is now only 19 hits away from being the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits.

You see the guys that he’s passing, and it’s really pretty amazing,” Girardi said. ”It’s longevity, but it’s also being productive for an extremely long time.”

The Yankees start a series tonight against the Oakland Athletics (17-32), who have the worst record in the American League. Mark Teixeira and Rodriguez, who have been a key part of the team’s improved play this season, have the most homers by active players vs the A’s while playing in Oakland (Rodriguez has 21 and Teixeira has 20).

Teixeira (14 homers) and Rodriguez (11 homers) have both performed better than anyone could have expected at the beginning of the season as they are second and fifth in the American League in homers. They are both healthy and have made the offense capable of scoring many more runs than it did last year.

CC Sabathia, who is from nearby Vallejo, will get the start for the Yankees. Sabathia, who has a high 5.47 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, will look to bounce back from allowing six runs on seven hits in only 2.1 innings in his previous start against the Texas Rangers. He has showed that his stuff can still lead to a successful start since on May 16 in Kansas City he pitched seven innings while only allowing one run and striking out five.

Kendall Graveman, who is making his sixth start of the season and sixth of his career, has a very high 6.04 ERA in 22.1 innings. This is the lineup that the Yankees, who are in first by 1.5 games in the AL East, will send out against the Athletics.

Brett Gardner LF

Chase Headley 3B

Alex Rodriguez DH

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Carlos Beltran RF

Stephen Drew 2B

Slade Heathcott CF

Didi Gregorius SS

Alex Rodriguez moved into sole possession of 4th place on the homers list in the win over the Orioles

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

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.