He did it, he finally did it; Alex Rodriguez hit the 660th home run of his career and now he stands tied with Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list. Not only did he reach an important milestone, but he also reached it in grand fashion against the Red Sox at Fenway Park exactly when the Yankees needed him most.
Alex Rodriguez didn't even start Friday's game. He was given the night off as Garrett Jones filled in at DH over the first seven innings. By the eighth, the score was tied 2–2 after the Yankees were able to survive for six inning with CC Sabathia on the mound, and Joe Girardi decided to bring in a pinch hitter to face Junichi Tazawa. With A-Rod and Tazawa facing off, it brought back memories of the 2009 15-inning marathon that ended in a walk-off two-run home run from Rodriguez in what was Tazawa's major league debut. This time he worked a 3-0 count and was given the green light to swing. It was the perfect spot for A-Rod to do something and he gave them the lead to eventually take the first game of the series.
As for the pitch, Tazawa seemed to miss his spot a bit when the down and away fastball ended up being a 94 mph four-seamer right down the middle of the plate. It might not be much of a surprise, especially for such a great hitter, but if you're a right-handed pitcher who throws the ball right over the plate, it's going to get absolutely crushed by A-Rod and you will be left crying. He actually has a little bit of a history when it comes to 3–0 pitches from right-handed pitchers who throw the ball right down the middle:
MLB Advance Media's new Statcast gives us the specs on A-Rod's historic home run ball:
According to these numbers, the dinger is among the top five fastest home runs in baseball this season, beating his previous fastest against Nathan Karns on 4/17 by a full mph. It also managed to be one of the five lowest home runs of the year with an apex of 59.1 feet, despite making it several rows back over the 37-foot Green Monster in right field. Measuring at just 419 feet, it seems to be a middle-of-the-road homer against all of MLB and the second shortest A-Rod has hit this year.
The different reactions to the record-tying home run were too diverse to count, but there were at least 660 of them on Twitter alone. No reaction was as cold and calculated as the Yankees official Twitter page, though:
YANKEES TAKE LEAD!— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 2, 2015
Nothing. Not even a mention of how they got the lead or who got it for them. Even in the heat of the moment, even after such a momentous home run against the Boston Red Sox, which you know many around baseball will want to play up, the Yankees continue to ignore history. Many, our fearless leader here at Pinstripe Alley included, were none too happy about their non-reaction:
Keep being petty assholes, @Yankees.— Tanya Bondurant (@TanyaBondurant) May 2, 2015
Hey @Yankees, isn't it cool that one of the guys on our team just tied Willie Mays in home runs? Looking forward to your coverage.— Tanya Bondurant (@TanyaBondurant) May 2, 2015
The most hilarious and stupid part of all this is that you KNOW someone from on high told @Yankees to not celebrate at all.— Tanya Bondurant (@TanyaBondurant) May 2, 2015
Not until their subsequent tweet did we finally see even a mention of the home run or the historic significance of it all:
With his homer in the 8th inning, @AROD ties Willie Mays with No. 660.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 2, 2015
That's a $6 million tweet right there as they finally acknowledge the milestone. Though they don't seem too excited about it at any point. It's almost like "fine, here's that thing you all want to see, I guess."
A-Rod's homer: http://t.co/5tEdaHN4Ks— New York Yankees (@Yankees) May 2, 2015
Another interesting part of the home run was the fact that it was actually A-Rod's first pinch-hit dinger of his career, which seems unbelievable until you realize he's only had about 20 plate appearances as a pinch hitter in his career since he's always been a starter. Still, the Yankees PR department decided to cling to this fact and tweeted all about the most important part of this home run. It should be noted that this is the only thing the account has mentioned about the game or the home run, which seems incredibly bizarre:
A-Rod's HR 660 was his second career pinch-hit (also singled on 8/25/13 vs. TB off Jamey Wright). Was 1-for-16 as a PH heading into the AB.— Yankees PR Dept. (@YankeesPR) May 2, 2015
Even the fans in the crowd had strong feelings about A-Rod's home run as the Red Sox fan who caught the ball plans on being difficult because why not:
Mike Shuster, Sox fan who caught A-Rod's 660th homer, tells Post he won't give ball back to Rodriguez.— Dan Martin (@DanMartin_Post) May 2, 2015
Meanwhile, the man himself, Willie Mays, seems to be happy for Alex Rodriguez, so why should we fight it anymore?
Man, Willie Mays is NOT helping with Yankees legal arguments against Alex Rodriguez. pic.twitter.com/61C53FfvUi— Howard Megdal (@howardmegdal) May 2, 2015
His teammates gave A-Rod a beer shower in the locker room, however, no reaction was more touching than A-Rod's own feelings when discussing the home run after the game:
ARod could not finish his postgame interview with Suzyn Waldman. He was overcome by emotion, stepped away to wipe tears from his eyes.— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) May 2, 2015
He's finally reached Willie Mays, but how long will it take to pass him? That's the last home run milestone we need to think about for awhile as we have another 54 dingers to go before he reaches Babe Ruth at 714. One more home run and we can start thinking about Alex Rodriguez's 3,000th hit, which is sure to attract everyone's attention once we get closer to that number.