Alex Rodriguez spent his All-Star break far from the baseball diamond, hobnobbing with the U.S. women's soccer team at the ESPYs and participating in a skit in which he apologized for everything, from a character's death in "Game of Thrones" to the economic crisis in Greece.
Friday night, it was back to work. Suffice it to say, A-Rod looked less the comedian and more the All-Star.
Rodriguez hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh as the Yankees defeated the Mariners, 4-3, at the Stadium.
"I'm rested, I'm healthy and it definitely felt good tonight," he said. "The rest was very beneficial for me, especially when I was gone serving my suspension and maybe the four days [helped]."
Rodriguez also singled and scored in the fifth, It was his 3,021st hit, moving him past Rafael Palmeiro for 24th place on the all-time list.
With the Yankees down 3-2 in the fifth, Rodriguez led off with the single. Mark Teixeira walked and Brian McCann singled to right to tie it.
Rodriguez homered off Joe Beimel, who relieved Mike Montgomery in the seventh. Rodriguez hit a 1-and-0 fastball into the Yankees' bullpen in right-center. It was A-Rod's 19th homer of the season and he's had a go-ahead RBI in the Yankees' last four games.
"That's a big hit and Alex has that ability to hit the ball [to] any part of the ballpark," manager Joe Girardi said. "It gets the second half started right."
That homer gave Masahiro Tanaka his second win in a row, despite stretches in which he looked less than masterful. He gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings, including two home runs to Kyle Seager.
The Yankees got on the board in the second, when Chris Young hit his 11th homer, a solo shot to leftfield on Montgomery's waist-high fastball. Seager tied it with one out in the third, when he homered to right.
Young came about 2 feet shy of hitting his second homer in the fourth, but settled for a double. He scored on Chase Headley's chopper up the middle for a 2-1 lead.
But Tanaka (6-3, 3.65 ERA), who's been susceptible to the one big inning in his previous two starts, was instead victim to the one big batter. Seager blasted a two-run homer to right in the fifth, giving the Mariners a 3-2 lead. It was Seager's sixth career multihomer game and his second this season.
"The at-bats against Seager were just bad pitches and he got the best of them," said Tanaka, who said he was otherwise pleased with his performance. "I really wanted to come out strong."
Apparently, A-Rod got his fill of attention during the break as he said that the victory was really courtesy of Tanaka, the bullpen and the defense, noting that with Dellin Betances (scoreless eighth) and Andrew Miller (scoreless ninth and his 19th save), "you hope that one run is enough."
"This is a great bunch of guys," he said. "They're always making fun of me . . . [and the ESPYs]. I thought it was a nice way to laugh at myself at my expense."
Fitting that A-Rod would get the last laugh.