It made for pretty good theatre in the ninth inning on Sunday at Citi Field, as Alex Rodriguez stepped in against Francisco Rodriguez representing the potential go-ahead run for the Yankees, who were trailing 6-4 with Derek Jeter at third base and pinch-runner Ramiro Pena on first.
Of course, you couldn’t help but think back to last year, when K-Rod got A-Rod to pop up in the first Subway Series game of the year, only to watch in disbelief as Luis Castillo dropped the ball in shallow right field and the winning run scored. This time, though, K-Rod took matters into his own hands, getting the slugger to wave at an 81 mph changeup for strike three.
“Right where you want to be, it was a great matchup,” A-Rod said. “He gave me some pitches to hit, I fouled them back. And he made the pitch to win the game. …You wish you could have those back. You foul them straight back, 2-0 and 3-1. Yeah, I’d like to have those back.”
Their eight-pitch battle tonight complete, A-Rod dropped to 2-for-17 lifetime against the closer, not counting two hitless at-bats in the 2005 playoffs when Rodriguez was pitching for the Angels.
“A-Rod, to me, is one of the best hitters I’ve ever faced in my entire life,” K-Rod said. “His numbers speak for themselves. I’ve been lucky to make good pitches to him.”
The Yankees aren’t flying to Minneapolis until late Monday, giving them a day to relax and take a breather after this 2-5 run against the Red Sox, Rays and Mets. As they depart New York, perhaps they’ll catch a glimpse out their windows of the Empire State Building, lit up in Mets orange and blue.
A-Rod preferred to think of the last inning as a positive sign, as the Yankees prepare for their first-ever visit to Target Field.
“We put some pressure on them and had some opportunities,” he said. “For a game that was 6-0, to come down to the last at-bat with two men on base, I’ll take my chances, especially the way the guys battled in front of me, had some great at-bats, got themselves on base, and a base hit or a double maybe ties it. Maybe we win it.”