Alex Rodriguez provides the difference in Yankees’ 3-2 win over Angels
You didn’t have to see Alex Rodriguez’s sixth-inning drive off Angels right-hander Ervin Santana to know where it would end up Saturday night. All you had to do was hear it.
The New York Yankees slugger crushed a fastball well beyond the wall in left-center field, the violent collision of bat and baseball producing a sound that pierced Angel Stadium like a thunderbolt.
Rodriguez tossed his bat toward the first-base dugout and didn’t even bother to track the ball’s flight. There was no doubt about this two-run shot, which snapped a tie and lifted the Yankees to a 3-2 victory over the Angels.
“It was a crash,” Angels right fielder Torii Hunter said of Rodriguez’s homer, the 623rd of his career and 68th against the Angels, more than any other player has hit against the team. “He’s powerful, man. He’s one of the best in the game.”
Rodriguez’s 10th homer of the season gave him 1,864 career runs batted in, tying him with Mel Ott for ninth on baseball’s all-time list, and made a winner of CC Sabathia, who allowed two runs — one earned — and eight hits in 82/3 innings to improve to 7-3.
Sabathia got two quick outs in the ninth, Rodriguez making a backhand diving stop of Jeff Mathis’ grounder and throwing to first for the second out. But Peter Bourjos singled to center, took second on defensive indifference and scored on Maicer Izturis’ single to pull the Angels to within a run.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi then summoned closer Mariano Rivera, who needed one pitch to get Erick Aybar to pop out to short for his 15th save, giving the thousands of New York fans — who often drowned out Angels fans in the stadium — reason to cheer.
“There was an infestation of Yankees fans,” Hunter said, somewhat dismayed but hardly surprised. “It does bug you a little bit, but every stadium is infested with Yankees fans. No mosquito repellent can keep them away. They are loyal.”
Hunter had to deal with a couple of them in the fourth inning, when he flipped over the short right-field wall and disappeared into the seats while attempting to catch Robinson Cano’s solo home run. Hunter knocked over a fan but avoided injury.
“I hit one guy, and he must have been a Yankees fan, because I heard another guy say, ‘Get off my friend!’ like he was going to sue me,” Hunter said. “I was just trying to make a play for Santana, who was pitching his butt off. I was close to the ball, but the short wall tipped me over. I’m glad the fan let me catch him.”
So was Manager Mike Scioscia, who held his breath for a moment after he lost sight of Hunter.
“Going into the stands like that, there’s lots of metal and plastic and things you can bang into that can cause injury,” Scioscia said. “But he popped right back up.”
Cano’s 12th homer gave the Yankees a short-lived 1-0 lead. Alberto Callaspo opened the bottom of the fourth with a double and took third when shortstop Derek Jeter booted Howie Kendrick’s hard grounder, putting runners on first and third.
Mathis, after fouling off a suicide-squeeze attempt, drove a sacrifice fly to center for a 1-1 tie.
Santana walked Curtis Granderson to open the sixth and grooved a 1-and-1 fastball to Rodriguez, who obliterated it.
“He has a very simple, powerful swing,” Scioscia said, “and when he squares a ball up, it comes off hot.”