The final chapter of Alex Rodriguez’s New York Yankees career was officially written Friday night in front of a soldout crowd at Yankee Stadium.
Rodriguez, who will now be released from his player’s contract, went out on the highest of highs given his unusual circumstances, contributing an RBI double in four at-bats. Manager Joe Girardi then allowed Rodriguez to man third base for one batter during the ninth of New York’s 6-3 win against the Rays, before removing him to take his final bows.
It was a highly emotional scene that had built the entire and was paid perfectly with A-Rod’s final appearance coming in the field.
Greeted with a standing ovation before each plate appearance, a focused A-Rod started his night with one of his best at-bats of the season against a tough pitcher in Rays’ right-hander Chris Archer. His first-inning RBI double was his first extra-base hit since homering against Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman on July 18. The two-bagger also moved him into 30th place on MLB’s all-time list at 548, breaking a tie with the similarly polarizing and controversial Manny Ramirez.
And yes, he was especially amped for that first plate appearance, as this fact indicates.
That double by A-Rod was his first hit on a pitch 95+ mph since June 7 against Angels.
— Katie Sharp (@ktsharp) August 13, 2016
The rest of A-Rod’s game was rather anti-climatic. He grounded out to shortstop on a 2-2 pitch leading off the fourth inning. In his third at-bat against Archer, A-Rod finally looked overmatched, going down swinging on three pitches. That was one of eight strikeouts for Archer on the evening. In what proved to be his final at-bat, Rodriguez grounded softly into Tampa Bay’s defensive shift on the very first pitch.
For those who predicted fireworks on the field after his pre-game ceremony was interrupted by thunder and lightning, it fell short of expectations. On a personal level though, he can at least hang his hat on contributing to a Yankees victory.
On a night the Yankees closed one significant chapter, it’s somewhat appropriate that a player they hope will play a big role in writing the next chapter stole the spotlight. Starlin Castro, whom the Yankees see as a building block, gave New York its first lead with two-run single in the third inning. He then gave New York the lead for good with a two-run homer in the sixth.
Friday night was A-Rod’s night, no doubt about that. But the bridge to New York’s future had been built
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