Lost in all the talk about Chien-Ming Wang’s injury yesterday was the outcome of Sunday’s game. In it, the Yankee offense erupted for 13 runs, and the Yanks’ team MVP Alex Rodriguez was right there in the thick of things.
On the day, A-Rod was 3 for 5 with a home run, three RBIs and a walk. That performance, his second three-hit game in two days, raised his season totals to .326/.411/.603. By the end of the week, A-Rod will have enough plate appearances to qualify for the AL leaderboards, and when he does, he’ll be in top five in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. His 12 home runs has him just outside the top 10.
Even more amazing are A-Rod’s numbers since coming off the DL. In 26 games, the Yanks are 17-9, and A-Rod — along with Jason Giambi and Johnny Damon — has led the way. Rodriguez is hitting .366/.470/.710 with 8 home runs — and a ninth that went over the fence but was incorrectly ruled in play — over 93 at bats. He’s even stolen five bases in six tries.
At this point, it’s hard to overstate Alex Rodriguez’s importance to the Yankees. Since coming back, he’s changed the dynamic of the lineup, and that quad injury was just as damning to the Yanks’ early goings as the struggles of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Meanwhile, with A-Rod hitting ahead of him, Jason Giambi is just as hot, hitting .364/.467/.701 since Alex’s return for the DL. What a powerhouse combination.
Yesterday, ESPN.com published an eTicket story by Tom Friend about A-Rod’s close friendship with Pete Rose. Baseball’s all-time hits leader has been coaching A-Rod both mentally and physically as he’s continued to mash the ball in New York City, and I can’t say I mind having Rose, one of the game’s best hitters ever, help A-Rod, one of the game’s best hitters and most tortured souls, keep his head in the game.
In the end, as A-Rod mashes, I keep coming back to October and November when we were ready to move on without Alex. Where would the Yankees be today if Alex Rodriguez had truly jumped the ship? The answer is not a pretty one.