Alex Rodriguez has his 600th home run. He hit in a Yankees win at home, just like he said he wanted. From a writer’s perspective, he picked a good time to do it: Early in a day game that ended without any other massive event to squeeze into the first few paragraphs. See, he really does work better with the media these days.
Of course, there was also this little fact about yesterday’s game: It moved the Yankees back into a tie at the top of the American League East.
That division lead might go back and forth a few more times before the end of September. The Yankees have scored the most runs in the American League. The Rays have allowed the fewest. These are the two best teams in baseball, so get comfortable.
One minor thing going on with the Rays that the Yankees can relate to…
This week, Tampa Bay promoted 31-year-old Dan Johnson from Triple-A Durham. He’s been in the lineup the past two games, his 12th and 13th major league games since 2007.
The Yankees and the Rays have experienced similar designated hitter issues this season. Tampa was counting on Pat Burrell, but he flopped (which wasn’t totally unexpected). The Yankees were counting on Nick Johnson, but he got hurt (also not totally unexpected).
The Yankees have dealt with Johnson’s injury by giving Marcus Thames regular starts, rotating some of their position regulars at DH and trading for Lance Berkman. The Rays have dealt with Burrell’s dismissal by calling up and eventually releasing Hank Blalock, giving 183 at-bats to .257/.315/.388 hitter Willy Aybar and by promoting Johnson, who was leading the International League in home runs and RBI.
Try something new to see if it sticks. It’s that time of the year.
Associated Press photo. Speaking of which, our online gallery has more pictures of A-Rod’s homer.