Alex Rodriguez said several times this season that his low power numbers did not bother him. As at-bat after at-bat passed without career home run No. 600, Rodriguez remained one of the top RBI men in baseball, and that seemed more than enough to satisfy him. Tonight, Rodriguez admitted feeling some frustration.
“I haven’t really hit for any power this year, so it’s been frustrating,” he said. “Being stuck at 599 was really a microcosm of what’s been going on all year. I’ve been able to drive in runs and hit some doubles here and there, but overall I’ve hit for no power.”
This has been his worst season since 1995, but tonight was a reminder of how dangerous and productive he remains. Rodriguez now leads the major leagues in RBI, and he’s nine away from his 13th consecutive 30-home-run season. With three more RBI, he’ll be the first player in baseball history to drive in 100 runs in 14 different seasons.
“He’s been such a great talent for a long time, nothing ever really surprising you,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he’s been pressing, because I think if he were pressing he wouldn’t have the RBIs… I think he’s not trying to do too much with runners in scoring position. He’s not trying to hit home runs. He’s just saying, I’m going to have a good at-bat and drive in the run.”
Rodriguez said he made some minor adjustments with Kevin Long this week, working to clear his hips a little more. He estimated that he’d been clearing only 70 percent, but Long worked to get him closer to 100. Whatever the cause, the result was obvious.
“It was nice to carry the team for one night,” Rodriguez said. “These guys have done a lot of carrying me all year.”
• Phil Hughes got his 14th win, the second most in baseball. He did it on a night when he struck out none for the first time this season. “I’m not going to try to strike guys out anyway,” he said. “If they’re going to swing early, so be it… Physically I felt really good tonight with my fastball, and they’re a real aggressive team so I really just took the approach of throwing a lot of fastballs and getting some quick outs.”
• What was Hughes thinking as he saw Rodriguez put on that show? “Why can’t he do that every time when I’m pitching?” he said.
• Also, if you look at the box score, you’ll see Hughes gave up nine hits. At least half of them were weak singles. Aside from a first-inning double and sixth-inning home runs, Hughes was not hit hard tonight. Not at all.
• Joba Chamberlain has held opponents scoreless in his past nine outings. That’s a span of 8.2 innings with two hits allowed.
• Derek Jeter tied Zack Wheat for 36th place all-time in hits. They both have 2,884, and Jeter has a hit in 13 of the past 16 games. According to the postgame notes, Wheat is from Missouri. He and I never met.
• About the lost fly ball that fell for a hit in front of Brett Gardner… Gardner saw it off the bat but lost it in the twilight. “I hoped it would reappear, and it never did,” Gardner said. From his spot on the mound, Hughes thought it was a sure out, but then again, “My eyesight’s not the best,” Hughes said. “I thought Granderson was going to catch it. Just looking out there I had no idea. Then I saw it fall nowhere near anybody.”
• Girardi’s story of the lost fly ball: “When it went up I said, ‘Tomper, does he see it?’ It looked like he was camped under it and he goes, ‘Yeah, he sees it,’ which made me feel better. And then that changed pretty quickly.”
• Tomper is third-base coach Rob Thomson, and I have no idea whether I spelled Tomper correctly.
• Girardi on pulling Hughes after six innings and 99 pitches: “I just thought he had had enough. It was extremely hot again. He had done a great job and had to work real hard getting out of that inning. Our bullpen has been very good, so I went to them.”
• Gardner is 5-for-15 this road trip and might be slowly breaking out of a hitting slump.
• Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson hit the Yankees fourth pair of back-to-back home runs this season.
• Random quote from Girardi: Sweeny Murti asked him how hard is it to hit three home runs off three different pitchers, which Rodriguez did tonight. “I’ve got no idea Sweeny,” Girardi said. “I’ve never done it.”
Associated Press photos of Rodriguez, Hughes and Jeter