By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, May 24- Before the New York Yankees took the field Wednesday evening for the finale of a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals in the Bronx, Alex Rodriquez said he was feeling good and in his words said, “Ready to go off.”
Rodriguez, who has not been supplying the power that has been a trademark of his career, meant every word about being ready to get those numbers. His two home run night, and seven strong innings of pitching from Andy Pettitte propelled New York to an 8-3 win at the stadium, taking two of three before heading for a nine- game, three- city road swing.
“I said it with conviction not because it was going to sound good here in my locker but because I felt it,” said Rodriquez about his 60th multi-home run game. “It’s good to back that up.”
His first home run, in the first inning, with a man on gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead ending a 52- at bat homer less stretch. And his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot in the third inning, also off Royals starter and loser Will Smith, (0-1) opened a 5-0 lead for New York.
The left hander Smith, making his Major League debut, allowed five runs in three innings.
“The long ball hurt him tonight,” said Royals manager Ned Yost about Smith.”At times he threw some good breaking balls and other times some pitches got too much of the plate. It’s tough coming in your first start at Yankee Stadium against this club.”
Smith got a taste of the Yankees and the stadium in the first inning. Curtis Granderson homered to deep right on a 1-2 pitch, his 14th of the year that put New York up 1-0.
He got Derek Jeter to hit a grounder to shortstop leading off the first. Jeter had three hits on the night and tied Paul Wagner for 15th on the all-time list with 2,152 hits.
“I was nervous a little bit facing a future Hall of Famer to start your career in Derek Jeter,” said Smith who a 22-year old who was called up from Triple-A Omaha on Tuesday. “But you still got to go out there and make your pitches and get people out,” he said.
Pettitte (2-1) won his second start and allowed two runs on seven hits, striking out eight. He gave up two solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings to Billy Butler and Mitch Maier.
He has not lost to the Royals since 1999 and has a career mark of 14-3 in 24 games.
“I felt like I’m moving the ball around the zone and that makes it difficult to hit,” Pettitte commented. His curveball was effective. His off speed pitches fooled more than one Royals hitter, and the changeup was vintage Pettitte that helped the Yankees to five previous world championship titles.
As for Rodriquez, who has been getting to the ballpark early and making adjustments, manager Joe Girardi said, “It helps Alex to do it two times in a row. People will stop asking him where’s the power? The power is there.”
Email Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com and watch and listen to Rich Thursday night live 5:30-7:30pm, Keep it in the Ring on www.inthemixxradio.com
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