Alex Rodriguez stood in the on-deck circle, taking it all in.
The scene was set for one of the most dramatic moments in recent Yankees history: Runners on first and second. Two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Yankees trailing by three runs. Red-hot Mark Teixeira at the plate. And home run No. 600 just on the horizon for A-Rod.
A better script could not have been written.
The Yankees had fought back from a six-run deficit against Kansas City on two home runs by Teixeira and one by Jorge Posada. Joakim Soria retired the first two Yankees in the ninth, but when Derek Jeter hit a ground-rule double to right and Curtis Granderson walked on four pitches, Teixeira stood as the bridge to Rodriguez and a potentially historic moment.
Teixeira tapped one past Soria up the middle, and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt's throw got to first baseman Billy Butler as Teixeira's foot hit the bag. Chad Fairchild called him out; replays from various angles indicated he was safe.
That prevented A-Rod from what would have been a memorable confrontation with the bases loaded. And when it was over and the Yankees reviewed their 7-4 loss, the only thing anyone could talk about was what could have been.
"I was safe," said Teixeira, who hit a solo homer to rightfield in the fourth and a two-run shot to right-centerfield in the fifth. "He missed the call and there's nothing you could do about it. Bases loaded, chance to win the game, 600 home runs and storybook ending. But it just didn't happen."
Even Rodriguez, who has a flair for the dramatic, saw potential before the last out was recorded. "It would have been exciting, definitely," he said. "He's one of the top closers in the game. I think it would have been a great battle . . . I tell you, that last at-bat would have been not only fun for me, but I think fun for everybody to watch."
The sellout crowd of 48,138 anxiously awaited the 600th homer that never came. Instead, the fans witnessed a 1-for-4 effort from Rodriguez, who flied out in the first, reached on an infield hit in the fourth and grounded out in the fifth against Kyle Davies, who allowed A-Rod's 500th homer three years ago.
"Davies did his part to try to relive the moment," A-Rod joked. "He just kept pumping fastballs right in there, man. I love that guy. He just kept challenging me and just kept throwing the ball by me and I kept fouling them off. And that was fun to see."
Rodriguez later had a chance to hit No. 600 against reliever Robinson Tejeda - off whom he hit No. 599 Thursday night - with Jeter on first in the seventh. But he grounded into an inning-ending forceout.
"You obviously want to reward the fans at home," Rodriguez said. "They've been so great all along, it seems like they want it so badly here at home."
Sergio Mitre, who made his first start since May 16 and first appearance since June 4 after recovering from a strained oblique, took injured Andy Pettitte's spot in the rotation and allowed seven runs and seven hits in 41/3 innings. He was booed during the third and fourth innings, and Jose Guillen's home run into the second deck in leftfield made it 7-2 and knocked out Mitre in the fifth.