09/10/07 5:00 PM ET
A-Rod named AL Player of the Week
Third baseman's yard work receives worthy recognition
By David Briggs / MLB.com
The blast offered a fitting opening act to Rodriguez's charmed week for the ages, a stretch that saw the Yankees third baseman homer in each of his next four games, hit two homers in an inning on a hobbled ankle and grandly march into historic territory.
In all, the American League Player of the Week hit .565 with seven homers, 11 RBIs and nine runs scored while putting up an astounding 1.478 slugging percentage.
Start engraving Rodriguez's name on his second MVP trophy in three years. The race is over.
"I can't relate to it. It's unbelievable," Yanks shortstop Derek Jeter said. "I haven't seen anything like it in all my years playing. It's not that easy."
Said manager Joe Torre: "What Alex has done in that short period of time is pretty amazing."
Rodriguez's remarkable week not only lifted the Yankees to a 5-1 record as they continued to increase their AL Wild Card lead, but came with a little personal significance, too.
Rodriguez matched his career high by going deep in five straight games, became just the fifth Yankees player since 1939 to drive in at least 140 runs, passed three players on the all-time home run list -- A-Rod (516 homers) moved into 17th-place, surpassing Mel Ott, Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews -- and pushed him up the Yankees' single-season home run leaderboard.
His 52 homers are more than any right-handed Yankee has ever hit, and only Roger Maris (61), Babe Ruth (60) and Mickey Mantle (54) have hit more in a pinstriped uniform.
Will there be a new record holder come September's end? The way Rodriguez is swinging, anything seems possible these days.
Of course, he would never say that. All personal milestones, he maintains, take a back seat to the pennant race.
"I want to win a world championship," he said.
But even Rodriguez admits this year may well be the 11-time All-Star's most memorable one.
"It's a magical season," Rodriguez said. "I am enjoying it."
That's become clear in the clubhouse, too. Torre said Rodriguez is at last "really having a good time."
"The difference, as far as I am concerned with Alex, is how much fun he has playing the game, during the game," Torre said Sunday. "This is a little bit of a difference from last year, when he just seemed to be internalizing a lot. He just seems to be a lot freer."
Never more evident was that than last week in the Bombers' series wins over Seattle and Kansas City.
Also considered for the weekly award, which is presented by Bank of America, were Tampa Bay's Carlos Pena (four homers, 10 RBIs) and James Shields (2-0, 1.93 ERA, 11 Ks), Cleveland's C.C. Sabathia (2-0, 0.53 ERA), Detroit's Brandon Inge (.474 avg., two homers, five RBIs) and Boston's Jonathan Papelbon (four saves, seven Ks).
David Briggs is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.