After becoming the first team ever to lose a playoff series while up 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox, the 2005 Yankees came into the season hoping to move on from that crushing disappointment. Unfortunately for them, however, they got off to a dreadfully slow start, going 8-11 over their first 19 games.
Alex Rodriguez got off to a solid, but not spectacular, start at the plate. In that same span of time, A-Rod slashed .281/.330/.488 with 4 home runs, 15 RBI, and a 117 wRC+. While that’s obviously an above average line for any player, the fact that it was Rodriguez makes the numbers look a little worse than they actually are.
On April 26th, though, A-Rod decided to take matters into his own hands.
Date of Game: April 26, 2005
Final Score: Yankees 12, Angels 4
Game MVP: Alex Rodriguez
The pre-punchline Carl Pavano got things started in the top of the first by shutting the high-powered Angels down, surrendering just a lone single to Chone Figgins. In the bottom half of the inning, Alex Rodriguez came to life. After Bartolo Colón issued free passes to Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui, A-Rod stepped up to the plate with two outs and, on a 2-2 count, absolutely demolished a pitch to deep left-center to give the Yankees a three-run lead.
Things quieted down in the second, but the Angels got two runs back in the top of the third when Vladimir Guerrero singled in a run and Garret Anderson grounded out to third to cash another runner in.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Yankees responded, once again on the back of A-Rod. The inning started with a Bernie Williams flyout, followed by a Gary Sheffield walk, and another flyout from Hideki Matsui. Once again, with two outs in the inning, Rodriguez stepped to the plate. After taking the first pitch for a ball, Colón grooved a pitch right down the middle and A-Rod took full advantage, hammering the ball to deep left field to give the Yankees a 5-2 lead:
With a two-homer day already in the books by just the third inning, A-Rod decided that he wasn’t done there. After a quiet top of the fourth, a single, an error (the second of the inning), and a walk loaded the bases for Alex Rodriguez. For some reason that remains unknown to me, Mike Scioscia thought it was a good idea to leave Colón in there to face A-Rod one more time.
Well, when he saw what A-Rod did to this 3-2 pitch, I think it’s safe to say he may have regretted that decision...
Needless to say, Colón got the hook after giving up the grand salami. For those counting at home, Alex Rodriguez is now 3-for-3 on the day with 3 homers and 9 RBI, and the score is now 10-2. That means A-Rod has accounted for 90 percent of the team’s runs in just four innings.
Things quieted down for the rest of the game, at least comparatively to the early game fireworks. The Angels got one back in the top of the fifth thanks to an RBI groundout from Vladdy Sr. In the bottom of the sixth, A-Rod struck again with a single to center field that cashed in Bernie. It wasn’t a fourth homer to tie the MLB record set by Lou Gehrig and others, but it was still good enough for his 10th RBI on the night.
From there, not a whole lot else happened. The Angels struck for one run in the ninth inning — a Figgins single scored Dallas McPherson — but the rest of the Angels’ bullpen shut the Yankees down in the last three innings of the game. All-in-all, A-Rod finished the game 4-for-5 with 3 home runs and a whopping 10 RBI. In Yankees franchise history, only one other players has ever driven more runs in during a single game (Tony Lazzeri)
Despite this offensive outburst from Alex Rodriguez, April would finish quietly for the Yankees, as they lost the next two games in the series against the Angels and limped to a 10-14 record in the first month of the season. In fact, it wouldn’t be until July — and well after the call-ups of Chien-Ming Wang and Robinson Canó — when the Yankees really put it together, and carried an exceptionally strong second half all the way to the postseason and a division crown. The Angels would ultimately get the last laugh, though, defeating the Yankees 3-2 in the ALDS.
When this game happened, I was 12 years old and a massive A-Rod fan — seriously, the day he was traded to the Yankees is still one of the best days of my life — so this game will be forever burnt in my brain. Say what you will about A-Rod’s character or his chops as a broadcaster, but the dude clearly had a flair for the dramatic.