Commentary

Inconspicuous A-Rod piles up hits, RBIs

Rodriguez hasn't homered in two weeks, but he's big reason for Yanks' winning ways

Updated: June 26, 2011, 2:58 AM ET
By Rob Parker | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez is on a tear.

Yet almost no one has noticed, because A-Rod's recent hot streak hasn't included the tape-measure home runs he's famous for.

Hello!!!

Newsflash: In the New York Yankees' 8-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Rodriguez went 2-for-3 and had three RBIs. He has knocked in five runs in the first two games of this series. He's batting .545 (12-for-22) with eight RBIs in his last six games.

And in his last 14 games, dating to June 10, A-Rod is batting .408 (20-for-49) with 16 RBIs -- while hitting only two homers.

[+] EnlargeAlex Rodriguez
Al Bello/Getty ImagesAlex Rodriguez went the other way on both of his hits Saturday, an RBI single and two-run double.

What makes Rodriquez's production even more impressive is that the third baseman is doing it on a gimpy right knee, injured in the series finale at Wrigley Field a week ago. There's no reason for concern, though. A-Rod is simply banged up, like a lot of players who play every day at this level.

That's why he hasn't missed any time with the injury. And though he came out of the game in the eighth inning for a defensive replacement, Rodriguez said he'll be in the lineup Sunday when the Yankees try to take the rubber game of the series.

"It's getting better," Rodriquez said. "I think there are some injuries you can play through and some you can't. And this one is one that I feel like is I can play through."

Manager Joe Girardi isn't worried. "What he's going through is not rare," Girardi said. "There have been thousands and thousands of players that have played nicked up. But he's continuing to play at a high level, which is great."

Rodriguez, who is still on pace to hit 30 or more home runs for the 15th straight season, said he's not worried about going deep.

"As long as I'm hitting, having good at-bats, hitting the ball the other way and I'm walking and the team is winning, I've never really worried about the long ball," said Rodriguez, who is batting .300 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs in 70 games. "Those come in bunches."

Girardi -- who saw his team win for the 11th time in the last 15 games -- is on board with this approach as well.

"He's been extremely productive and you don't need home runs in our lineup to drive in runs," Girardi said. "His at-bats have been really, really good. He's finding ways to drive in runs -- sac flies, doubles, singles, whatever it takes. He hit some homers the last homestand we had here. But he's seeing the ball really good."

Despite the knee, Rodriguez didn't look as if he was holding back. In the third inning, A-Rod scored on Nick Swisher's shallow sacrifice fly to left field. Rodriguez didn't score the easy way, either. He had to slide head-first in order to score on a close play at the plate. It gave the Yankees a 5-0 advantage.

"I sensed he was kind of fading a little toward center field," Rodriguez said of Rockies left fielder Ryan Spilborghs. "I knew for a right-handed thrower, it's a very tough throw. So I took a chance."

The only thing most didn't like about the daring dash was the head-first slide. A lot of things can happen on that play and 99 percent of them are bad. That's how the Texas Rangers lost Josh Hamilton for six weeks earlier this season.

"It's probably not always recommended," Rodriguez said. "But I knew it was going to be bang-bang and I wanted to give the catcher the least possible to tag."

If you watched the game closely, the other thing that stood out was how A-Rod knocked in his three runs in his first two at-bats. Both times he went the other way, to right field. He had an RBI single between first and second base in the first inning and a two-run, double to right-center in the third inning.

"Today is a great example of when I'm doing things right at the plate, hitting the ball to right field, two-strike hitting, " he said. "Not trying to do too much, not trying to over swing."

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