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A-Rod makes AL history with tear

A-Rod makes AL history with tear

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter cautions that Yankees fans shouldn't get too used to seeing Alex Rodriguez homer on a daily basis, but then again, even the guys in pinstripes are starting to become a bit spoiled.

The Yankees have played 14 games this season and Rodriguez has homered in nine of them, leaving observers to wonder this after the odd games when A-Rod doesn't homer: What happened?

"Everyone should enjoy it, because I don't know if we'll see it happen again," Jeter said.

With his game-winning, three-run home run off Cleveland's Joe Borowski on Thursday, Rodriguez boarded the Yankees' charter flight to Boston as the first player in American League history to homer 10 times in his club's first 14 games.

The historic barrage has left Rodriguez leading the Major Leagues in home runs and RBIs (26), while having hit in all of the Yankees' first 14 games in 2007 -- plus three more at the end of 2006 for a 17-game streak.

His shot to sink Cleveland was the All-Star's second game-winning blast of the young season, having also cracked a walk-off grand slam off Baltimore's Chris Ray on April 7 in New York.

"I'm just trying to keep it simple," Rodriguez said. "I've been telling you [reporters] for seven or eight weeks, since down in Tampa, I'm feeling pretty good."

Rodriguez's home runs have come off lefties and righties, starters and relievers, to all fields, early in games and late, in close situations and in blowouts.

One season after Rodriguez stressed over criticism that he couldn't come up in certain situations, he's pretty much handled all of them early in 2007.

"I'm just trying to enjoy the moment," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez started his whirlwind campaign with an eighth-inning home run off Tampa Bay's Juan Salas on Opening Day, providing extra cushion for New York's April 2 victory.

In his only multihomer game of the season to date, Rodriguez reached Orioles pitching twice on April 7, tagging Steve Trachsel in the first inning for a two-run shot and then capping his afternoon with the memorable grand slam off Ray in the ninth.

A-Rod's very next at-bat brought another home run and a curtain call, as he reached Orioles lefty Erik Bedard for a two-run shot in the first inning on April 8.

Fastest to 10 home runs
Player
Team
Year
Games
Mike Schmidt
Phillies
1976
12
Alex Rodriguez
Yankees
2007
14
Albert Pujols
Cardinals
2006
14
Luis Gonzalez
D-backs
2001
14

Then, it was time to bring the long ball show on to long distance, as Rodriguez blasted road-gray home runs against a trio of right-handers: Minnesota's Sidney Ponson (April 9) and Boof Bonser (April 10) and Oakland's Joe Blanton (April 14, solo) before returning to the Bronx.

Rodriguez homered three times in the Yankees' sweep of the Tribe, reaching Jake Westbrook on Tuesday, Tom Mastny on Wednesday and finally Borowski on Thursday.

Rodriguez maintains that he feels at peace and has since early in Spring Training, which helps him keep his mind clear as he continues to be arguably the most dangerous hitter in the Majors.

His mechanics are firmer, as well, as Rodriguez worked with hitting coach Kevin Long extensively over the winter. The duo eradicated a leg kick and helped the leaner, more muscular A-Rod shorten his swing and simply meet the ball.

So far, the combination has proven lethal.

"It's what Alex is capable of," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "You talk about the sky is the limit -- he's just got incredible ability. He's basically letting it speak for itself."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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