Jays footnotes to history in Bronx loss
Marcum surrenders A-Rod's 600th homer as bats go quiet
NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays hoped to escape Yankee Stadium this week without witnessing history. Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez -- with his majestic home run to center field in the first inning on Wednesday afternoon -- had other plans.
As the crowd roared in celebration, and Rodriguez emerged from the Yankees' dugout to acknowledge the fans' raucous response to his 600th career home run, the Blue Jays could only stand by and watch. The final score -- Toronto lost, 5-1, to conclude a three-game set with New York -- served more as a footnote than anything else.
The announced crowd of 47,659 will surely remember being on hand for A-Rod's milestone blast, but there might be only one person in the building who will be able to say he has seen two players join the 600-home run club. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was at San Diego Stadium when Willie Mays clubbed his 600th blast in 1969.
"I don't think too many people get a chance to see that," Gaston said.
The Blue Jays (56-52) are happy to head home after winning two of three games in the Bronx, but Toronto would have undoubtedly preferred to depart on the heels of a series sweep and without surrendering A-Rod's historic homer. Instead, Blue Jays right-hander Shaun Marcum will have his name listed in the record books.
With two outs and a runner on first base in the first inning, Marcum unleashed a 2-0 cutter that did not slice to the outside corner as he intended. Rodriguez took full advantage, drilling the pitch to straightaway center field, where the baseball landed in the netting that hangs over Monument Park.
"It was a cutter that just didn't quite cut as much as we wanted," Blue Jays catcher John Buck said. "Obviously, he got good wood on it. He's done it 600 times, so he's a good hitter. He'll hit mistake pitches."
Marcum brushed off his place in history.
"It's just another one on my stats -- no big deal," Marcum said. "It's a great accomplishment for him, but I'm not worried about him hitting 600 home runs. I'm more concerned with us losing the game. That's what we're here for, to play baseball, not worry about records."
With that blast, Rodriguez became only the seventh player in baseball history to reach 600 home runs, joining Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630) and Sammy Sosa (609). At 35 years old, Rodriguez became the youngest of that class to launch his 600th career blast.
No. 600 came three years to the day after No. 500 for A-Rod.
Speedy to 600
|5.||Ken Griffey Jr.||2,440|
"If he stays healthy, he'll get up to 700," Gaston said. "I don't know if he's going to pass Hank or pass Bonds. He's, what, 35 years old? What's amazing about him is that he hit 500 on this date three years ago. That's pretty amazing, if you think about it. The same date -- that's something.
"So, it took him three years to get that other hundred. Three more years, he'll be 38, so I don't know. I don't know if he's going to surpass those guys or not."
For Rodriguez, the home run ended a drought of 46 at-bats over 12 games without a home run. In Toronto's first two wins in this series, the third baseman had been held to an 0-for-8 showing at the plate. Watching Rodriguez in those games, Gaston felt like the chase for No. 600 was wearing on New York's slugger.
"The last couple of days, he was swinging at pitches that he wasn't sitting on," Gaston said. "That's why he was getting jammed. That'll happen once in a while. Mentally, you just get tired and worn down, and that'll happen. The thing I like about him is that he has a plan.
"I don't think anyone can say that's the wrong plan. Not when you have 600 home runs."
Gaston sidestepped a question about whether A-Rod's accomplishment means as much as it did for other players, considering the third baseman's admission of using performance-enhancing drugs early in his career.
"I don't get into that," Gaston told reporters. "That's for you guys to decide if you want to vote for him to get him in the Hall of Fame or not. I just sit back and watch him play."
|100||Nerio Rodriguez||Blue Jays||8/12/98|
|200||Jon Garland||White Sox||5/12/01|
|250||Luke Prokopec||Blue Jays||4/30/02|
|400||Jorge de la Rosa||Brewers||6/8/05|
|450||A.J. Burnett||Blue Jays||7/21/06|
|600||Shaun Marcum||Blue Jays||8/4/10|
Gaston said that he often used Rodriguez as an example when discussing offensive approach with the Blue Jays' hitters. On this day, Toronto's lineup was not able to come through with much against Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes. The Jays' lone run came in the fourth inning via a double from Lyle Overbay.
Rodriguez also did some damage to Toronto's roster.
In the fifth inning, A-Rod fouled off a 3-1 pitch from Marcum and sent the pitch bouncing off Buck's right hand behind the plate. The catcher suffered a deep laceration and was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game.
The Yankees (67-40) ran to a 2-0 lead on Rodriguez's first-inning blast -- his 17th home run of the season -- and added a run on an RBI double from Mark Teixeira in the third inning. Two frames later, Teixeira delivered again, sending a pitch from Marcum to left field for a two-run single that put the Blue Jays behind, 5-1.
"It was one of those days you had to battle," Marcum said.
Marcum is one of 365 pitchers to have been victimized by Rodriguez, who now has 51 career home runs against the Blue Jays. That represents the second-highest total against one club for the third baseman. A-Rod also has 51 homers against the Orioles and 67 in his career against the Angels.
Gaston, who also roomed with Aaron as a rookie in the Braves' system in 1967, would have liked to have his club finish off the sweep of the Yankees. That said, the manager appreciates that he was able to witness two players reach such a historic milestone.
"I've been very fortunate in this game," Gaston said. "It's always been against us, but there aren't a lot of people who can say they saw a 600th home run two times."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.