A-Rod hits 2 HRs, drives in AL-record 7 in inning
By FRED GOODALL, AP Sports Writer 4 hours, 1 minute ago
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer on his first swing of the season and smacked a grand slam on his last. The New York Yankees slugger was pretty impressive in between, too.
Setting what he hopes will be the tone for a successful playoff run, Rodriguez homered twice and drove in an AL-record seven runs in a 10-run sixth inning Sunday, helping the AL East champions finish the regular season with a 10-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
“We have one goal and it’s to win 11 games,” he said, looking ahead to the postseason. “If we get to 11 wins, that’s means we’re going to get contributions from everyone.”
On this day, he was a one-man wrecking crew.
Rodriguez hit a three-run homer off Wade Davis(notes), giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. He added his 18th career grand slam later in the inning after Andy Sonnanstine issued an intentional walk to league co-home run champion Mark Teixeira to load the bases.
“It was awesome. That was a great inning for him and for the team,” Teixiera said. “It’s good to have a nice offensive output like that the last game of the season and give us some momentum.”
The previous AL record of six RBIs in an inning was accomplished 12 times, most recently by Boston’s David Ortiz on Aug. 12, 2008. The major league record is eight, set by Fernando Tatis, who hit two grand slams in an inning for St. Louis on April 23, 1999.
New York, preparing to open the playoffs at home against Detroit or Minnesota on Wednesday or Thursday, finished with a 103-59 record, its best since 103-58 in 2002.
Tampa Bay dropped to 84-78 after going 97-65 last year and reaching the World Series for the first time.
A-Rod moved into a tie with Mark McGwire for eighth on the career list with 583 homers. It also gave him at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the 13th time— including the past 12 seasons—despite missing the first month with a hip injury.
“Unbelievable,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He needed two homers and seven RBIs to keep his streak alive. It’s really pretty amazing. That’s the player he is.”
A.J. Burnett (13-9) pitched five innings for the victory, enabling the Yankees to avoid a weekend sweep.
Joba Chamberlain, who could be headed for the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs, tossed a perfect inning in relief as Girardi continued to get the pitching staff ready for the postseason.
Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman will meet Monday to begin discussions on the playoff roster.
A year after making an improbable run to the American League pennant, the Rays finished 19 games behind the Yankees in the division. Evan Longoria scored both of the runs off Burnett, hitting his 33rd homer in the first and racing home on a passed ball to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
Rookies Davis (2-2), Jeff Niemann and David Price combined for 25 wins and are part of the reason the Rays are optimistic about their prospects of returning to the top of the AL East next year.
“There’s no doubt we’ll be right back in it, and our goal is to get to the World Series again in 2010. Period,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “Nothing else really matters in regard to our goal-setting.”
Rodriguez was sidelined until May 8 after hip surgery, then homered on the first pitch he saw from Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie. He began Sunday with 28 homers and 93 RBIs and said the possibility of extending his 30-100 streak didn’t cross his mind until New York batted around in the sixth.
“I just didn’t think it was realistic at all, so therefore it wasn’t even a goal,” Rodriguez said.
“I was actually talking to (Eric) Hinske and I said I may have one shot. If they load the bases, I might pop one, you never know. I was just joking around, then I hit it.”
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner visited with the team for about an hour in the clubhouse before the game and later said he’s “excited” about the playoffs, which will start later this week.
New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez(notes) (13) and Tampa Bay Rays catcher Gregg Zaun(notes) (9) watch the first of two sixth inning homers by Rodriguez leave the park. The second was a grand slam.
The 79-year-old Steinbrenner made the trip to Tropicana Field from his home in nearby Tampa for the second time this season. He also met with the players before a Yankees win in St. Petersburg on July 29.
“It was really great to see him. He was in good spirits,” Girardi said. “Said, ‘Just keep it going. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”’ NOTES
: Teixeira and Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena(notes) tied for the AL home run title with 39. … Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte(notes) wound up earning $10.5 million of the $12 million available under his contract—$500,000 more than the Yankees’ original offer of $10 million guaranteed that he failed to accept. Pettitte had a $5.5 million base salary, earned $3 million based on innings and $2 million for staying on the active roster the entire season. He missed $750,000 bonuses for 200 and 210 innings, finishing with 194 2-3. … The Rays sat All-Stars Jason Bartlett(notes) and Carl Crawford(notes). Bartlett finished with a career-best .320 batting average, a team record. Crawford, who batted .305, set the previous mark of .315 in 2007. A-Rod hits 2 HRs, drives in AL-record 7 in inning - MLB - Yahoo! Sports