One word: clutch. After years of dismal performances in the postseason, Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, came up big for his team on Saturday night with a home run in the bottom of the 11th inning in game 2 of the American league championship series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Rodriguez is certainly making a name for himself this October as Mr. Clutch, having one of his best postseason performances to date. For years, Rodriguez was criticized for having great seasons, but never delivering for his team in the playoffs. Since acquiring Rodriguez in 2003, the Yankees have only made it to the American League Championship Series once. And that was in 2004 in a forgettable series against their league rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
But now with Rodriguez at the helm of the Yankee postseason resurgence, he is certainly revamping his postseason image with such timely home runs. In game 2 of the American league division series against the Minnesota Twins, Rodriguez hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
In game 3, he hit another home run in the bottom of the seventh inning against Twins’ starting pitcher Carl Pavano to tie the game.
And in Saturday night’s game, Rodriguez came up big with a timely hit in the bottom of the 11th inning to tie the game once again.
The Yankees went on to win all three games.
Home runs continued flying off of Rodriguez’s bat this afternoon in game 3 of the American league championship series. Unfortunately that game ended in defeat for the red-hot Yankees, whose 2009 undefeated postseason run ended with a gut-wrenching loss against the Angels on Monday night.
But Rodriguez has four home runs throughout the postseason, and if he continues to swing a strong bat throughout the rest of the series, the Yankees may have a good shot at the World Series if the team’s other big bats produce.
A relatively quiet Mark Teixeira has allowed Rodriguez to step back into the limelight as the Yankees power hitter. Without all of the pressure mounting on his shoulders to produce big hits, Rodriguez is just playing better.
With an oftentimes formidable match-up for pitchers with Teixeira, Rodriguez and Matsui at the 3-4-5 hitting positions, the pressure is off of Rodriguez to get that one big hit. But he’s been getting that hit nonetheless.
He’s just in a different mindset, and as he put it himself, is just playing the game. He isn’t trying to get that big hit. His main concern is getting on base and manufacturing runs that way. But ironically, Rodriguez has been seeing the ball exceptionally well, producing runs via the long ball.
So is it Kate Hudson? Was it the addition of Mark Teixeira? Or was it the possibility of season-ending hip surgery earlier on in the season? Or has A-rod finally learned to have fun on the field and win while doing so?
Whatever it is, Rodriguez has found the winning formula for himself and for his team. Let’s see where that takes them. Rodriguez’s legacy will only be cemented once he finally gets his ring with the Bombers.