A-Rod ties mark with 13th, 14th homers
Yankees third baseman equals Major League April record
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Everyone is expecting to see an Alex Rodriguez homer these days, and on Monday, he didn't disappoint. The Yankees third baseman wasted no time, either, clubbing his 13th home run of the year during his first at-bat.
Then, in his final at-bat in the ninth, A-Rod hit a two-run shot for No. 14 of the season.
Although the hits couldn't lift his team to victory, the Yankees lost to the Rays, 10-8, they still went a long way in the record books.
The first long ball tied the AL record for April homers. The second homer broke that record and tied Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols for the MLB record for April home runs, set last season. A-Rod also became the fastest player to hit 14 homers, with Monday being his 18th game of the season.
"When you're where he is, you're allowing your ability to take over," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Right now, as good as he seems to feel, he's just letting his instincts play the game.
"The game has slowed down for him, basically."
Rodriguez has more home runs than six teams, but he said it was hard to focus on personal milestones as his team struggles.
"We need a win in the worst way," he said. "It's easy to say 'Wow' when you're winning games ... [but when losing], you've got to keep fighting."
The first home run came on a 2-2 pitch from Rays starter Casey Fossum in the second inning and gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
In addition, it extended Rodriguez's hit streak to 18 games, the longest AL streak to start a season since the Royals' George Brett strung together 19 games with a hit to open the 1983 season.
"Any time you get mentioned with names like George Brett and Mike Schmidt is pretty overwhelming," Rodriguez said. "Probably not as much as I should, but I will [think about it] someday."
Alex Rodriguez's 2007 home runs
|** -- Walk-off homer|
|NOTE: Albert Pujols, who hit an all-time record 14 April homers in 2006, accomplished the feat in 67 at-bats. Ken Griffey Jr. hit 13 homers in April 1997 for the AL record in 76 at-bats. A-Rod's 14 homers this month have come in 75 at-bats through April 23.|
The 31-year-old Rodriguez's 4-for-5, three-RBI night included his 33rd and 34th RBIs of the month, a career high. He's one behind the April record of 35, set by Juan Gonzalez in 1998.
"What he's doing is amazing," Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon said. "The guy's on fire, and I hope he keeps it up. The whole team has rallied behind him.
"We can't wait until the next time he comes up."
Torre said before Monday's game that in all of his baseball experience, he has never seen a better stretch of offense for any hitter.
"He's not going to hit 12 home runs every 15 games," Torre said. "But if he does, watch out."
Rodriguez came away from Monday's game hitting .400 with seven doubles, seven walks and a stolen base. Whatever he's used as an offseason tuneup, it most definitely has worked to his advantage.
"Baseball's not easy," Rodriguez said. "I'm just trying to ride it out as much as I can, enjoy myself and help the team win."
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.