Arriving back home from a seven-game homerless stretch on the road, the Yankees' third baseman couldn't deliver homer No. 600 in his return to the Bronx on Monday night, finishing the Yankees' 8-6 loss to the Blue Jays with an 0-for-5 performance that included two strikeouts.
But now, Rodriguez's problem is no longer about clubbing homers. It's about tallying hits. With his game-ending groundout to Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar, Rodriguez extended his hitless streak to 14 at-bats.
"The last three or four games, I haven't helped the team and I haven't produced," Rodriguez said. "I've had quality at-bats, but I just haven't been able to finish them. But the bottom line is to produce and help the team win, and I haven't done that the past few days."
Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow wanted to keep it that way. The right-hander stifled Rodriguez with a flurry of fastballs and curveballs, punctuating the slugger's tough night. The second strikeout, however, was particularly frustrating for Rodriguez. After whiffing on Morrow's 87-mph curveball in the fifth, A-Rod vented his discontent over his 11-game homerless drought, slamming the butt of his bat on home plate.
"It's inevitable not to think about it," Rodriguez said about the milestone. "I thought I had some pretty good swings today. At the same time, the idea is to think small and not try to do too much. It's a 25-man roster, and I've just got to do my small part."
Manager Joe Girardi, of course, knows Rodriguez's role is much greater. Following Monday's loss, he acknowledged Rodriguez's recent struggles at the plate but maintained that he wasn't alarmed by the slugger's recent production.
"It's not the longest drought he's had during the course of the year, not hitting a home run," Girardi said. "It's going to happen. You just want him to continue to try to have good at-bats and try not to think about it too much."
But Rodriguez is aware that Girardi's suggestion is easier said than done. The third baseman said that the flashbulbs from the Yankee Stadium crowd and constant baseball changes have been difficult to ignore.
Since clubbing his 599th homer on July 22, Rodriguez is batting just .209 with three doubles and eight RBIs. Rodriguez, however, isn't panicking over his power outage.
"I only have 16 home runs this year," Rodriguez said. "It's not like I have 30. I haven't hit the home runs as often this year. For me, it's about productivity and finishing at-bats. Tonight and the last three to four days, I haven't been able to do that."
"I felt like my balance is good, and I'm very confident I'm going to come out of this and help this team win."
-- Didier Morais