I can only imagine what must have been running through a Minnesota Twins fans' mind last night as they watched Alex Rodriguez hit two homers and a bases loaded RBI single--"This is the guy who is supposed to stink?" Now batting .282 with 29 dingers and 99 RBI, Rodriguez, according to my pal out west, Rich Lederer, "is having one of the best seasons for a bum in recent memory." Rodriguez had that good look back last night--even when he grounded into a double play his second time up, his frustration inspired confidence, instead of a "here we go again" feeling. Lee Jenkins reports in The New York Times:
"He looks more comfortable," Manager Joe Torre said. "I'm pleased and everybody else is pleased, too, because he makes a huge difference."
After Rodriguez's first home run, the fans at Yankee Stadium begged him for a curtain call, but he did not respond. After his second, in the seventh inning, they begged again. Only when Torre told Rodriguez to acknowledge the cheers did he walk to the top step of the dugout and wave his helmet.
"Unless Joe tells me to go, it's not in my nature," Rodriguez said. "I don't feel comfortable doing that."
The Yankee third baseman was not the only offensive star--Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu had three hits apeice too, as the Bombers rolled over the Twins, 8-1 on a rainy night in the Bronx. Corey Lidle got ahead of hitters consistently and tossed six shutout innings. Meanwhile, the Twins committed three errors and played a sloppy game.
The rain held off enough for them to get the game in. The swirling winds made virtually every fly ball to the outfield an adventure. Late in the game, Jorge Posada hit a line drive to center field. On the crack of the bat, Torii Hunter turned and ran to the spot where he thought the ball would land (Charles Euchner has a fascinating chapter about how outfielders track fly balls in his book, "The Last Nine Innings"). When he looked up, he discovered that the ball had dropped in behind him by a good 20-30 feet. "Wow," was all he could say.
It's actually not raining right now, but the winds are fierce. Not exactly an ideal day for playing ball, forget about sitting in the stands. Both Cliff and I will be at the park tomorrow. Hopefully, the weather will improve some by then.
Jason Giambi was back in the line-up but Mariano Rivera was unavailable and, as Kevin Kernan reports in the Post, the Yankees are holding their breath that their star closer will be okay come October. However, it is possible that both Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield could return before all is said and done. A dizzing proposition, for sure.