When Alex Rodriguez began his redemption journey, he walked up to . . . well, Journey. For weeks, "Don't Stop Believing'' was A-Rod's anthem, a plea to baseball and its fans to accept its performance-enhanced son back into the fold.
These days, he walks up to Jay-Z's "Run This Town.''
Let's get the suspense out of the way: A-Rod did not get his 3,000th hit in Thursday night's 9-4 win over the Marlins. But if the crowd's reaction to Sam Dyson's momentarily denying him (and them) a chance at history is any indication, A-Rod's music selection is right on the money. Right now, he really does run this town.
Rodriguez had an RBI single in the first and added a single in the fifth to get to 2,999. When he came up in the eighth, the crowd rose and cheered resoundingly. Dyson had other thoughts, throwing four consecutive balls inside to the boos and derisive chants of a crowd of 38,239.
The Yankees scored four runs on Dyson in that inning, and by the time the beleaguered reliever left the mound, the Stadium shook with the sound of displeasure.
Chase Headley and A-Rod walked to start the inning. Headley scored on Brian McCann's single and Rodriguez came in on a wild pitch. Chris Young's double to left scored McCann and, with Vin Mazzaro in for Dyson and one out, Stephen Drew hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Young.
Although it ended up a laugher, it didn't appear headed in that direction. It was 3-3 until Carlos Beltran crushed Mike Dunn's 3-and-2, 94-mph fastball for a two-run home run to left with one out in the seventh. It was his fifth homer and his first since May 30.
Beltran's long ball might have been an anomaly for him, but it was also a necessity after the Yankees consistently threatened early on and consistently did nothing with it.
The first three Yankees to face starter Mat Latos reached via singles, and Rodriguez's grounder up the middle brought in Brett Gardner for a 1-0 lead. McCann walked with one out to load the bases, but Beltran struck out swinging and Didi Gregorious popped to short.
The Yankees' inability to hit with runners in scoring position continued in the second. Mason Williams doubled with one out, moved to third on Gardner's groundout and was stranded when Headley struck out. All told, the Yankees left eight men on base, six in scoring position, through the first five innings.
It looked as if all those abandoned runs would cost them. CC Sabathia (three earned runs on five hits in six innings) allowed his first hit in the fourth, a leadoff triple to Dee Gordon, who scored on Christian Yelich's groundout to second. Jeff Baker hit a single to left and scored on Jeff Mathis' sacrifice fly to center in the fifth. Giancarlo Stanton hit a booming, second-deck home run to left to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead in the sixth.
Gardner followed that up with a homer of his own, a sixth-inning, two-run shot that tied it at 3 and knocked Latos out of the game.
A-Rod will get his second chance at history tonight at the Stadium against the Tigers' Justin Verlander.
As Joe Girardi said before the game: "I hope he's not pressing [for 3,000] right now. I hope he's not thinking too much about it.
"The one thing Alex has had a lot of practice with is blocking things out. and hopefully he can block this out."
With all the cheers he's getting, he might not want to.