Asked several times this season about Alex Rodriguez's lack of power numbers, Joe Girardi would say some form of "home runs come in bunches."
Tonight, after A-Rod hit three home runs, a trio of absolute bombs?
“I’ve told you, I think a lot of times for players home runs come in bunches,” Girardi said. “And they came in a bunch today.”
And off three different pitchers. Rodriguez finished 4-for-5 with three homers and five RBI, giving him a baseball-best 97. He now has 21 home runs and four on this six-game trip that wraps up Sunday afternoon.
“I haven’t really hit for any power this year, so it’s been frustrating,” Rodriguez said. “Being stuck at 599 [he hit No. 600 Aug. 4 against Toronto] was really a microcosm of what’s been going on all year. I’ve been able to drive in runs and hit some doubles here and there, but overall I’ve hit for no power.”
A-Rod had separate video and hitting sessions with Kevin Long at the start of this series and again yesterday, with the hitting coach finding a mechanical issue with Rodriguez's hips.
“He felt my hips weren’t coming through,” A-Rod said. “All your power comes from your hips."
Phil Hughes, who allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings, said of A-Rod: "When he gets locked in like that, it's pretty fun to watch."
Hughes was the victim of some bad luck in the sixth when the Royals scored twice, though on only one hard-hit ball, a solo homer by new Yankee killer, former Yankee Wilson Betemit, who is now hitting 11-for-25 against the Yankees this season after going 3-for-4 tonight.
The Royals loaded the bases on three balls that weren't hit hard at all -- an infield single by Kila Ka'aihue, a bloop hit to left by Alex Gordon and a soft fly to left that Brett Gardner saw off the bat but lost when it reached the level of the stadium lights.
"Yeah, pretty helpless," Gardner said of the feeling of suddenly not seeing the ball. "Especially with guys on first and second, nobody out and in a close game."
But only one more run scored, cutting the Yankees' lead to 4-3 and A-Rod would take care of the rest soon after that.
"It was nice to carry the team for one night," he said. "These guys have done a lot of
carrying me all year."
Back for the series finale tomorrow afternoon as it will be A.J. Burnett (9-9, 4.87) taking on Bryan Bullington (0-2, 4.85).