08/19/2002 00:18 am ET
Rodriguez still on red-hot streak
A-Rod is clubbing the ball at a historic rate
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Alex Rodriguez must have added to his list of things to do this season when Toronto arrived on Thursday.
A walkoff home run? Check. Rodriguez did it against the Blue Jays on Friday.
A three-homer night? Affirmative. He did it on Saturday.
Two home runs in the finale? Count it. A-Rod picked up a pair of homers in the Rangers 10-7 victory against the Blue Jays on Sunday.
A-Rod won't admit it, especially with more than a month to play, but somewhere on that list is winning his first American League MVP.
"He's the best player in the game, whether or not people vote for him," Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. "I tell you what, I really don't think we all appreciate what we are seeing. He's a shortstop and there's not a shortstop who can come close to what he's doing."
What Rodriguez is doing is leading the Majors in home runs with 44 and RBIs with 110. He is hitting .323 and riding an 11-game hitting streak. He hit six home runs over a span of nine plate appearances during the last three games along the way, becoming the fourth player in American League history to accomplish the feat. He became the 26th player to ever hit five home runs in two games and has already reached his second-highest total for home runs in a season. He hit a career-high 52 homers in 2001.
"The (MVP) talk is very flattering and I have been on both ends," Rodriguez said. "I have come up short on winning teams and I have come up short on losing teams. It would be a great achievement."
A-Rod is in the fabled "zone" and he knows it. The ball does indeed look bigger and every pitch appears as if it's in slow motion, he says.
"There is a sense of clarity. You see the ball much clearer and your thoughts are slow," he said. "Your vision is very clear. It's hard to explain.
The Blue Jays could not figure it out either. Rodriguez finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs on Sunday, including home runs in the second and seventh innings. He went 9-for-12 and racked up 11 RBIs during the Rangers' three-game sweep of the Blue Jays.
"He's in a zone, but I guess you can say he has been in a zone for the past seven years, so I'm not surprised. He's just a great, great hitter," Narron said. "Cal Ripken was a great, great player and arguably the greatest shortstop, but Alex is just taking it to a new level. I'm not knocking Cal one bit. I had the pleasure of coaching him in Baltimore."
Rangers starter Aaron Myette (2-4) allowed only three runs and four hits, but issued seven walks in the victory. Toronto (52-70) tagged rookie reliever Reynaldo Garcia for four runs in the ninth inning to make a rout appear respectable.
The Blue Jays scored first in the first inning on an RBI-single by Vernon Wells, but the Rangers answered with three runs in the bottom half of the frame off of Toronto starter Esteban Loaiza (5-7) to take a 3-1 lead.
Toronto tied the game at 3 on RBIs by Shannon Stewart and Eric Hinske in the second, but Ruben Rivera scored on a groundout by Mike Lamb to push Texas ahead, 4-3, in the bottom half of the inning. A-Rod followed with the two-run shot over the left field wall to give the Rangers a three-run lead.
"In 1996, I felt like this seven or eight times, I had 215 hits and hit .358, so that year I had a lot of that, but now it's more for power," Rodriguez said. "I had 54 doubles that year so it was a lot of line drives. I felt like I had three hits every day but I was in more of a complimentary role."
Rangers right fielder Carl Everett scored in the third and added an RBI-single that scored Ivan Rodriguez in the fifth as Texas cruised ahead, 8-3.
Rodriguez's second homer of the game came off of Corey Thurman in the seventh.
"Rodriguez is the hottest hitter in the world right now," Thurman said. "I thought he hit a good pitch, so you just tip your cap and go on."
Rafael Palmeiro followed with a home run of his own, his 34th homer of the season, to push Texas ahead, 10-3. It marked the sixth time this season the Rangers hit consecutive home runs in an inning.
"If Alex does not win the MVP, it will be an injustice," Palmeiro said. "That will be just wrong because that's what he is -- the best player in baseball."
Surely, the best player in baseball distinction is somewhere on Rodriguez's list as well. He probably won't admit that either.
Tuesday at Boston (6:05) - Joaquin Benoit (2-2, 4.70) vs. Derek Lowe (17-5, 2.29)
Wednesday at Boston (6:05) - Kenny Rogers (12-6, 3.69) vs. Casey Fossum (2-2, 3.02)
Thursday at Boston (6:05) - Rob Bell (4-3, 6.40) vs. Pedro Martinez (16-3, 2.20)
Jesse Sanchez covers the Texas Rangers for MLB.com. He can
be contacted via email at email@example.com.This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.