Alex Rodriguez's quest for 600 home runs appears to have gotten a whole lot easier going into Tuesday night.
On the verge of becoming the seventh player in history to reach the plateau, Rodriguez and the New York Yankees open a two-game set against the Los Angeles Angels in the Bronx.Rodriguez hit his 598th homer in a 9-5 home victory over Tampa Bay on Sunday, ending a seven-game drought.The three-time AL MVP said he is trying not to focus on the milestone, instead concentrating on the Yankees (58-33) winning a key series over the team with the second-best record in baseball."We have so much going on," Rodriguez told the Yankees' official website. "We have a lot of team goals right now. My focus right now is: think small, drive in runs and not worry about too much."The chances of Rodriguez going deep Tuesday did not seem good with Scott Kazmir originally scheduled to start for the Angels (50-45). Rodriguez is 4 for 29 with no homers and eight strikeouts against the left-hander.Kazmir, however, has been placed on the 15-day disabled list because of shoulder fatigue after giving up 13 runs -- the most ever by an Angels pitcher -- in his last outing, a 15-1 loss at Oakland on July 10.Los Angeles will give the ball to Sean O'Sullivan (0-0, 1.29) in Kazmir's place. The second-year right-hander, who will be making his first start of the season after four relief appearances, has not faced Rodriguez or New York.The Yankees and Angels have split six games this season. Los Angeles has not dropped a season series to New York since going 3-6 in 2003.The Angels are 2-8 in the new Yankee Stadium, including three losses in last year's AL championship series. Former Yankee Hideki Matsui went 2 for 11 with a homer as Los Angeles lost two of three in his return to the Bronx from April 13-15.Matsui has not homered since June 26, hitting .192 in over his last 16 games. Another former Yankee -- Bobby Abreu -- has batted .222 in his previous 17 contests.The Angels are embarking on a critical road trip as they try to catch first-place Texas in the AL West. They visit the Rangers and face newcomer Cliff Lee in the start of a four-game series Thursday.Los Angeles went 1-6 on its last trip before the All-Star break, then bounced back to win three of four at home from Seattle after resuming play. The Angels fell 2-1 in 10 innings Sunday."We won the series three games to one," center fielder Torii Hunter told the Angels' official website. "That's all you can ask for. If we can win series from here on out, that'd be great."New York will start Phil Hughes (11-2, 3.65), the losing pitcher in the All-Star game in Anaheim last Tuesday. Hughes won his most recent start, allowing one run in seven innings of a 6-1 victory at Seattle on July 9.The right-hander gave up two runs in five innings to earn a 6-2 win over the Angels on April 15. Matsui homered and walked twice against Hughes in that game.