A-Rod hits historic homers Nos. 50, 51
No. 49 of season as third baseman sets Major League record
KANSAS CITY -- It's taken four years for Alex Rodriguez to feel comfortable playing for the Yankees. Now, he is producing one of the greatest seasons in club history.
A smiling and excited Rodriguez added another impressive chapter to his list of accomplishments on Saturday night in the Yankees' 11-5 win over the Royals. He set a Major League record and hit his 50th and 51st homers of the season, the 514th and 515th of his career, off Brian Bannister.
"It takes some people four full years to get comfortable," Rodriguez said. "I am a goofy guy and I make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes you just have to be able to laugh at yourself, and I have not done that enough."
The two blasts gave Rodriguez six homers in his past four games and eight in his last 10. Overall, A-Rod is batting .317 with 51 homers, 138 RBIs and 130 runs scored.
"I think just the fun aspect of it," manager Joe Torre said of Rodriguez's ability to produce the statistics he has posted this season. "He is really having a good time. Who wouldn't with that kind of talent and the streak he is in right now?
"But even during the games, he is having fun, and that is something that I didn't see before this. I think it is going to pay off for him. If it is helping him, then it is helping us, too."
The first homer came in the fourth inning. Rodriguez hit a 3-1 Bannister pitch to straightaway center field for a two-run shot that gave New York a 4-0 lead. It appeared that center fielder Joey Gathright might have a play on the ball, but it cleared the center-field fence out of Gathright's reach.
"I've faced a lot of other good home run hitters, and when you stay ahead of them, you do all right," Bannister said. "But when they know a strike is coming, they are a lot more dangerous."
A-Rod became the fourth player in Yankees history to hit 50 homers in a single season. Roger Maris, 61 in 1961, and Mickey Mantle, 54 in 1961 and 52 in 1956, are the only other Yankees to hit 50 since 1939. Babe Ruth hit 50-plus four times in his career, including 60 in 1927, 59 in 1921, 54 in 1928 and 54 in 1920.
"I said last night that this has been a pretty magical season so far, and to be doing it and winning games in the middle of a pennant race means that much more," Rodriguez said of hitting 50.
"That is pretty incredible stuff," Torre said. "He is having more fun. I noticed that in Spring Training, and it has certainly carried over. I think it has given him an opportunity to just leave it there. If it wasn't a good day or a good at-bat, he just leaves it there and moves on. Whatever caused it, whatever he dealt with in the winter time, it is certainly working for him."
The first homer was Rodriguez's 48th as a third baseman. The blast broke his own American League record, set in 2005, for homers by an AL third baseman, and it tied the Major League record for homers by a third baseman in a single season.
Mike Schmidt hit 48 in 1980 with the Phillies, and Adrian Beltre tied the mark in 2004 with the Dodgers.
Rodriguez broke the record two innings later with a solo shot in the sixth on a 3-1 pitch from Bannister. A-Rod now holds the single-season record for homers by a shortstop and a third baseman.
"It is very special," Rodriguez said. "I admire guys like [Brooks] Robinson and [Mike] Schmidt and [George] Brett and all of the great guys that have played before me. It just makes it very humbling, and I thank the good Lord for that."
The second homer, estimated at 382 feet, gave A-Rod eight multi-homer games this season and 52 in his career, providing New York with a 5-2 lead.
"It is a comfortable spot to be there," Rodriguez said. "I want be there 10 times a game."
This marks the third time that A-Rod has hit 50 homers in one season. He hit 52 in 2001 and 57 in 2002 as a member of the Texas Rangers.
"It's special," he said. "We are in the middle of a pennant race, so it is a little bit of a different scenario. It's a lot more special in New York."
A-Rod almost hit his third homer of the game in the Yankees' seven-run sixth inning, flying out to deep right-center off reliever Ryan Braun. If A-Rod had homered, it would have been the second time this week that he had homered twice in one inning.
"We almost saw something tonight that has almost never been done," Torre added.
While Rodriguez jogged across the infield, the crowd of 35,518 gave him a loud ovation and several fans chanted, "MVP, MVP."
"I know he is my player, but it is really hard to think that anyone's numbers can hold up to what he is doing," Torre said of the AL MVP race.
"The bad side of this thing is that he does it so often, you are surprised when he doesn't do it," Torre added. "I still marvel -- we all do. It is an honor to watch this stuff. There is no question about it. Every at-bat, the excitement that he generates and the fact that we are in a pennant race certainly helps us a great deal."
A-Rod was hit on the left elbow by a Luke Hochevar curveball in the eighth inning. Shelley Duncan pinch-ran for Rodriguez, and A-Rod earned another loud ovation from the crowd when he left the field.
"I said, 'You should hit this time after hitting two homers,'" Torre said. "After being hit by a pitch, I made a nice decision for you. He is so loose and free and easy right now."
Conor Nicholl is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.