clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Indians Open Four-Game Set Tonight With A-Rod Stuck On 599 Homers

(Sports Network) - Alex Rodriguez's quest for his 600th career home run resumes on the road this evening, when the superstar third baseman and his New York Yankee teammates start up a seven-game trek with the first of four consecutive meetings with the Cleveland Indians from Progressive Field.

Rodriguez, vying to become the seventh player in major league history to reach the 600-homer milestone, has failed to go deep in three straight contests since belting No. 599 in a 10-4 home victory over Kansas City on Thursday. The three-time American League MVP has still been productive at the plate, however, and had a hand in yesterday's 10-4 win over the Royals by collecting a pair of hits and knocking in three runs.

The perennial All-Star had an RBI double and a run-scoring single in the win, and got his final RBI of the day when he was in struck in the left hand and wrist by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth inning. Rodriguez did leave the game afterward, but is expected to be okay for tonight's matchup.

Rodriguez went 8-for-17 and drove in seven runs during the four-game series with the Royals, in which New York won three times, and is batting .400 (12- for-30) with 10 RBI over his last seven outings.

Curtis Granderson provided the power for the Yankees in Sunday's triumph, belting a pair of solo homers and scoring three times. Robinson Cano added two hits and a pair of RBI and Derek Jeter went 3-for-4 with a run-scoring double to help starter Phil Hughes register his 12th victory of the season.

Hughes (12-3) allowed three runs via a pair of Kansas City homers over the first 5 1/3 innings, exiting after the game was held up for over 2 1/2 hours by heavy rain in the top of the sixth.

"I can do a lot better. I felt like I was starting to get into a groove a little bit when the rains came," Hughes said afterward. "I was kind of disappointed, but it was a step in the right direction and I'll just look to improve."

Rodriguez owns a .375 (9-for-24) average with one career homer against Jake Westbrook, who'll be taking the mound tonight for perhaps the final time in a Cleveland uniform. The veteran right-hander has been the subject of trade rumors as Saturday's non-waiver deadline approaches.

Westbrook has drawn some interest from contending clubs with a decent bounce- back season after missing all of the 2009 campaign and most of 2008 recovering from elbow surgery. The 32-year-old has posted a respectable 6-6 record with a 4.74 ERA in 20 starts for the AL Central cellar-dwelling Tribe and has tossed at least six innings in six of his past eight trips to the mound.

He wasn't overly sharp his last time out, however, issuing a season-high five walks and surrendering four runs over six frames in a loss at Minnesota this past Wednesday. Westbrook had won his initial start following the All-Star break after holding Detroit to two runs in 5 2/3 innings back on July 16.

The one-time Yankee will be taking on his former club for the first time since the 2007 AL Division Series and has a 2-4 record with a 5.29 ERA in 10 regular-season appearances (seven starts) versus New York.

The Yankees, who enter this series with a three-game lead on Tampa Bay for first place in the AL East, will hand the ball to Javier Vazquez in the opener. The offseason acquisition has pitched well for the Bronx Bombers after a rough beginning to the season, as he's compiled a 5-2 record with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts since June 1.

Vazquez wasn't real good in his most recent assignment, though, despite picking up his eighth win of the season. The right-hander allowed five runs and a pair of homers in a five-inning stint against the Angels on Wednesday, but received a wealth of offensive support in a 10-6 verdict.

The 34-year-old has yet to face the Indians this season but has plenty of experience against them, having spent three years with fellow AL Central member Chicago from 2006-08. Vazquez is 7-5 with a 4.40 ERA over 16 lifetime starts against Cleveland and is 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA in nine Progressive Field appearances.

The Indians will be continuing a seven-game homestand that began with Friday's 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay. The playoff-hopeful Rays rebounded to win the next two bouts, however, and claimed a 4-2 decision in Sunday's rubber match.

Tribe starter Justin Masterson (3-9) gave up all four Tampa runs (three earned), three of which came on a Reid Brignac homer in the top of the second inning. He lasted 6 1/3 frames and permitted just five hits while striking out five.

"I look at it as a slider that forgot to slide," Masterson said about the pitch to Brignac. "It turned out to be a terrible cutter like 85 (miles per hour)."

Travis Hafner went 4-for-4 at the plate for Cleveland, with Carlos Santana and Andy Marte driving in the team's only runs.

New York took three of four games from the Indians at Yankee Stadium back in May and has prevailed in seven of the last nine clashes between the teams. In their only visit to Cleveland last season, the Yankees won three of four tests from the Tribe.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.