When Alex Rodriguez began his redemption journey, he walked up to . . . well, Journey. For weeks, "Don't Stop Believing'' was A-Rod's anthem, a plea to baseball and its fans to accept its performance-enhanced son back into the fold.
These days, he walks up to Jay-Z's "Run This Town.''
Let's get the suspense out of the way: A-Rod did not get his 3,000th hit in Thursday night's 9-4 win over the Marlins. But if the crowd's reaction to Sam Dyson's momentarily denying him (and them) a chance at history is any indication, A-Rod's music selection is right on the money. Right now, he really does run this town.
Rodriguez had an RBI single in the first and added a single in the fifth to get to 2,999. When he came up in the eighth, the crowd rose and cheered resoundingly. Dyson had other thoughts, throwing four consecutive sliders inside to the boos and derisive chants of 38,239.
"I don't even know how to describe it,'' A-Rod said of the reaction, noting that having his two daughters in town made it even better. "Every time moments like that happen, I can just reflect on a year ago today . . . I think their support has made me play a lot better.''
The Yankees scored four runs on Dyson in that inning for a 9-3 lead, and by the time the beleaguered reliever left the mound, the Stadium shook with the sound of displeasure.
Chase Headley and A-Rod walked to start the inning. Headley scored on Brian McCann's single and Rodriguez came in on a wild pitch. Chris Young's double to left scored McCann and, with Vin Mazzaro in for Dyson, Stephen Drew hit a sacrifice fly to score Young.
Although the Yankees' ninth win in 10 home games ended up a laugher, it didn't appear headed in that direction. It was 3-3 until Carlos Beltran crushed Mike Dunn's 3-and-2 fastball for a two-run home run to left with one out in the seventh.
Beltran's long ball, his fifth, might have been an anomaly for him, but it was also a necessity after the Yankees consistently threatened early on and consistently did nothing with it.
The first three Yankees to face starter Mat Latos reached via singles, and Rodriguez's grounder up the middle brought in Brett Gardner for a 1-0 lead. McCann walked with one out to load the bases, but Beltran struck out swinging and Didi Gregorius popped to short.
It was the beginning of a trend, as the Yankees left eight on base, six in scoring position, through five innings.
CC Sabathia (three earned runs, five hits in six innings) allowed runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth. The loudest was the last, when Giancarlo Stanton hit a booming, second-deck home run to left to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead. Gardner followed that with a sixth-inning, two-run shot that tied it and knocked Latos out of the game.
A-Rod will get his second chance at history tonight at the Stadium against the Tigers' Justin Verlander.
The crowd will be there for him, as it has been all the way from Journey to Jay-Z.
"Sometimes people pull for people to fight back and get back up when they've been knocked down,'' Joe Girardi said. "Most people that walk into the Stadium, most people that are in this room have probably made mistakes in their lives. We probably wish we could go back and maybe do it a little differently, but that doesn't keep you from trying to be better as a person and to be better as a player . . .
"Most people want to see people come back. They really do.''
On Friday night, they may get to be part of a comeback for the history books.