His bat had gone quiet, but the concern that Alex Rodriguez had emptied his tank may have been premature.
The Yankees slugger showed he has something left Wednesday night. A-Rod hammered a solo homer in the sixth that gave the Bombers the lead. However, the Yanks unraveled in the 11th inning of a 9-5 loss at the Stadium.
Rodriguez's plummeting batting average since the start of August was the root of the concern. In the 51 games entering Wednesday night, the 40-year-old designated hitter batted .185 and the Yanks had gone 25-26 while squandering a six-game AL East lead to the Blue Jays, who clinched the division Wednesday night.
But with the finish line to the postseason in sight, A-Rod was back to doing some damage. The Yanks scored three runs in the fifth to tie the score at 4. Facing reliever Matt Barnes with two outs in the sixth, Rodriguez hit a 2-and-1 fastball that clocked 96 mph over the leftfield fence for a 5-4 edge.
It was his first home run since Sept. 15, when he closed a streak of six homers in 11 games. He has 33 home runs on the year. "He looked great today," manager Joe Girardi said.
In Tuesday's loss, A-Rod went 0-for-4, looked slow with the bat and declared afterward "I just stunk today."
Based on that showing Girardi believed Rodriguez was fatigued and regretted that he could not give him another day off because "we need him now."
"I thought he swung the bat extremely well today," Girardi said. "Yesterday was a long emotional day for a lot of guys. A lot of us went to Yogi's funeral and I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but he looked great today."
He rebounded with the kind of productive game that the Yankees will be banking on they try to wrap up their first playoff trip since 2012 and the home-field advantage for the AL wild-card game on Tuesday.
He hit a rocket off the glove of Boston third baseman Deven Marrero for a single in the third. He drew a one-out walk scored awkwardly in the fifth. After A-Rod advanced to third on Carlos Beltran's ground-rule double, Brian McCann followed with a grounder to first baseman Travis Shaw, who saw the slow-footed Rodriguez trying to score. Shaw thought about throwing home before taking the out at first base. A-Rod looked ready to make a head-first slide, but pulled up when he realized there was no throw.
He reached base four times, the first time he has done it more than twice since Aug. 6.