Alex Rodriguez ended his career last season, and what a career it was. A-Rod began in the big leagues as an 18-year-old with the Seattle Mariners, signed with the Texas Rangers prior to the 2001 season, and then was dealt to the New York Yankees in 2004. He’ll go down as one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform, and even though his performance has arguably dropped off, he has many memorable moments in his 22-year career. Here are the seven that were most memorable.
7. The glove slap
Rodriguez’s Yankees famously took a 3-0 lead on the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 American League Championship Series (ALDS). However, the Sox came back in the series, with a 4-2 lead in game six and a runner on first in the eighth inning. Rodriguez hit a groundball that looked like it was going to be an out, but on his way to first base, the ball came flying out of the glove of pitcher Bronson Arroyo, and Derek Jeter came around to score from first base as the ball trickled into right field.
But after an argument from Red Sox manager Terry Francona, the umpires ruled that Rodriguez was out at first base for slapping the ball out of Arroyo’s glove. The run came back off the board and the Sox would go on to win game six and then game seven, propelling them to the World Series while the Yanks would go home and wonder what might have been.
6. Dropped to eighth
Two years later, A-Rod would start to become known for his poor hitting in the postseason. Between 2005 and 2006, Rodriguez would hit 3-for-29 in losing in the ALDS to the Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers. The next memorable moment, however negative, came in game four against the Tigers in 2006. Tired of seeing one of his best players struggle and knowing the season was on the line, manager Joe Torre dropped Rodriguez from his normal cleanup spot all the way down to eighth in the lineup.
The Tigers would win the game — and the series — by a score of 8-3. Rodriguez would go 0-for-3 in the game, taking his average down to .071 for the series. The good news for Yankee fans? A-Rod would end up hitting really well in the playoffs in 2009, when he’d lead the team to their most recent World Series championship.
5. His 3,000th hit
One of the later highlights of his career, Rodriguez entered a game on June 19, 2015 against the Detroit Tigers searching for his 3,000th career hit. Coming up in the first inning against Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander with two outs and nobody on base, Rodriguez lined one to the deep right-center for his 13th home run of the year and career hit number 3,000. He would eventually get the ball back to commemorate the event, and he’d continue on to have the last truly good year of his illustrious career — posting a .842 OPS with 33 home runs.
4. Home run 500
On August 4, 2007, Rodriguez stepped up to the plate in the first inning against Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Kyle Davies looking for career home run number 500. He wouldn’t disappoint the fans, clubbing a three-run shot to left field. It was homer number 36 of the season for Rodriguez, who gave his team an early 3-0 lead in a game that they’d eventually win 16-8. That season is also the one where A-Rod would hit 54 home runs and set career highs in RBI (156) and OPS (1.067).
3. Home run 600
On the very same day (August 4) but three years later, Rodriguez was searching for home run number 600 for his career. Yet again in the first inning, the Yankees third baseman would step to the plate and deliver, this time against Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Shaun Marcum. It was a two-run shot to center field at Yankee Stadium, giving New York an early lead in a game that they’d eventually win 5-1. The Yankees would make it all the way to the ALCS that season, but Rodriguez would post an OPS under .600 in those nine games.
2. Two-run World Series home run
Finally, a meaningful game in which Rodriguez plays the part of the hero. The Yanks were playing in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, and the series was tied 1-1. The Phillies held a 3-0 lead on New York heading into the top of the fourth inning with Cole Hamels on the mound. Things weren’t looking good for the Yankees until Rodriguez changed the complexion of the game with one swing.
After Hamels dispatched Johnny Damon on a flyball to right field, he issued a walk to first baseman Mark Teixeira. That brought up Rodriguez, who drilled a 0-1 pitch out to right field for a two-run homer. New York would end up winning the game 8-5, in large part due to A-Rod’s home run that shot life into the team. In total, he was 1-for-2 with a walk on the night.
1. Winning the World Series
Game six of the 2009 World Series should go down as the most memorable of A-Rod’s career. He would reach base three of the four times he came to the plate and score two runs, finishing the playoffs that season with a ridiculous 1.303 OPS. The Yankees won the game 7-3, which meant that Rodriguez got his only World Series trophy. For fans of Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees, this game is certainly one of the most memorable things about his tenure with the team.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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