The A-Rod Home Run Watch- 500 and Still Counting

Yankee Stadium—On Sunday, July 25, the latest Yankees home stand concluded without Alex Rodriguez having joined the very exclusive 600 home run club. The Kansas City Royals drew huge crowds as fans poured through the entrances in hopes of seeing A-Rod blast his 600th.

The Yankees rooters hoped the wait for No. 600 would not be long as A-Rod hit his 599th on Thursday, July 22, the first game of the four game series with Kansas City. Rodriguez feasted on Kansas City pitching during the four games but did not achieve the milestone home run.

He hit successfully 8 times in 17 official at bats. He also walked once and was hit by a pitch in his final trip to the plate on Sunday. He drove in 7 runs in the four contests, contributing to the Yankees victories in three of the four games.

There were several times on Saturday and Sunday, that it would have been fitting if Rodriguez had homered. Royals starter Kyle Davies faced Rodriguez three times in his 5.1 innings on the mound on Saturday. The confrontations drew the full interest from the sold-out crowd of 48,138 because Davies surrendered the 500th hit by A-Rod on August 4, 2007 at Yankee Stadium.

In his three at bats against Davies, Rodriguez flied out, beat out an infield single and grounded out. After the contest, Rodriguez saluted the effort of the opposing hurler, “I love that guy. He did his part to try to relive the moment. He just kept pumping fast balls in.”

Saturday’s 7-4 loss by the Yanks ended with Rodriguez waiting on deck With the bases loaded and two out, the very hot Mark Teixeira was called out at first by umpire Chad Fairchild. Replays showed the call to be questionable at best. The even tempered first baseman who twice homered earlier in the contest said, “I was safe. He missed the call” He also described how exciting it would have been with Rodriguez at bat, “Bases loaded, a chance to win the game, the 600th home run.”

Rodriguez also described what it could have been, “It would have been exciting. He’s [Joakim Soria] one of the top closers in the game. I think it would have been a great battle.”

On Sunday, Rodriguez came to the plate for an unexpected fifth time in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Yanks batted around. The bases were loaded. In that situation this season, A-Rod has been lethal. He was 7 for 13 with an astounding 25 runs batted in. A Blake Wood fastball off the left forearm felled the Yankees superstar. A run scored, but Rodriguez was removed from the game. The injury, at first, looked very serious, but a different report was given after the game.

Yankees skipper Joe Girardi explained, “it kind of grazed his hand. [It was a] scary moment. He’s such a big part of our club. I don’t think there was any intent.”

Rodriguez expressed disappointment of not hitting the 600th at home, “I’m just disappointed we couldn’t share the moment. They [fans] could have left an hour, two hours earlier.” He also praised the Royals pitchers, “I have to give the Kansas City pitchers a lot of credit. They just went right after me.”

The Yanks don’t return to the Bronx until August 2, so it appears A-Rod will reach his milestone on the road. He may give himself a 35th birthday present if he homers on Tuesday in Cleveland.

Other Yankees milestones–Although A-Rod did not hit home run #600, other Yankees reached important moments during the weekend series. Mark Teixeira reached base on Sunday for a career-high 41 consecutive games. With two hits in Sunday’s game, Robinson Cano reached 1,000 hits in the majors. On Friday night, Jorge Posada became the 12th Yankee batter to drive in 1,000 runs.

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