"You're in a situation where if Teixeira reaches, No. 600 is real important," Girardi said. "It can win the game for us."
But the reveries of Rodriguez and the Yankees were intervened by the fates and baseball's clichéd status as a game of inches. With two men on, two men out and Rodriguez loosening up on deck, Teixeira was thrown out at first on a bang-bang play by Yuniesky Betancourt, and the Yankees fell short, 7-4, to Kansas City on Saturday at the Stadium.
Teixeira didn't exactly agree that he was thrown out; he was just called out by first-base umpire Chad Fairchild.
"Yeah, I was safe. He missed the call and there's nothing you can do about it," Teixeira said.
"I had a feeling Tex was going to get on no matter what," Rodriguez said. "He's having one of those weeks and one of those days."
Close calls aside, Rodriguez's faith was well-placed. Teixeira continued his standout July with a pair of home runs to right off Royals starter Kyle Davies. A solo shot in the fourth put the Yanks on the board, while a two-run blast in the fifth reached the bleachers in right and pulled the Bombers to within 7-4.
Teixeira is hitting .389 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 19 games this month.
"When I was getting good pitches to hit early on, I wasn't making good enough contact," Teixeira said. "Whenever you're on a good streak, seeing the ball, and you do get good pitches to hit, you're not missing them."
Jorge Posada also hit a solo home run into the first row in right in the fourth. Davies, for his part, was able to keep Rodriguez in the yard, preventing a replay of the third baseman's 500th homer three seasons ago.
According to Rodriguez, it wasn't for lack of trying.
"Davies did his part to try to relive the moment," he said. "He just kept pumping fastballs right in there. I love that guy. He just kept challenging me, and kept throwing the ball by me or I kept fouling them off. That was fun to see."
"With the big hitters in their lineup, Teixeira and Alex, you have to keep the ball down to those guys," Davies said. "I did a good job with Alex. I didn't do a good job with Teixeira."
The thought of a walk-off milestone home run for Rodriguez, though, was but the final in a catalog of could-haves and ought-tos bemoaned by the Yankees after the game. Topping that list were the two unearned runs the Royals scored off of Sergio Mitre because of a Jorge Posada error in the first.
With runners on second and third and none out after a double steal, Billy Butler grounded sharply to Rodriguez at third. Rodriguez, who wasn't playing in, came home with the ball when Scott Podsednik hesitated off third. The throw was there in time, but Podsednik appeared to free the ball from Posada's glove with his foot-first slide for the first run of the game. Jose Guillen followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 advantage.
The Royals stole another run with two outs in the third when Jason Kendall got a walking lead on Mitre and easily swiped second base. Butler then singled him home.
"I thought we gave them their first three runs in a sense," Girardi said. "That's what hurts."
Filling in for the injured Andy Pettitte and coming off the disabled list himself, Mitre never seemed to find his command. He was up in the zone all day with his sinker, and he was often behind in the count. He threw first-pitch strikes to only 12 of 22 hitters, and four of Kansas City's seven hits off him came when the Royals' hitters were ahead in the count.
"I'm playing into their game instead of being up in the count," Mitre said of falling behind with ball one. "You can't really do much."
The Royals capitalized on Mitre's lack of control with three runs in the fourth on a walk, back-to-back doubles from Wilson Betemit and Rick Ankiel, and a two-out RBI single from Podsednik. Guillen added a long solo homer to left in the fifth to give Kansas City a 7-2 lead and knock Mitre out of the game.
Dustin Moseley was magnificent with 4 2/3 innings of one-hit relief to keep the Yankees in the game until the end. But alas, it wasn't to be, and Rodriguez will have to wait until Sunday, the final game of the homestand, for his next shot at history. After the series finale, the Yanks embark on a seven-game road trip.
"Obviously, you'd love to do it at home and do it in a win," he said. "You want to reward the fans."