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Alex Rodriguez homers off Justin Verlander for 3,000th hit

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the Yankees reacts after

Alex Rodriguez #13 of the Yankees reacts after career hit No. 3,000, a first-inning home run, against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Friday, June 19, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Alex Rodriguez is in the club.

The 39-year-old designated hitter became the 29th player to reach 3,000 career hits when he blasted an opposite-field home run off Justin Verlander in the first inning as the Yankees beat the Tigers, 7-2, Friday night at Yankee Stadium.

It was oddly similar to the way in which Derek Jeter -- the last Yankee (and previously only one) to reach 3,000 hits in a Yankee uniform -- did it: with a home run.

This one came on Verlander's first pitch to him, a 95-mph fastball that Rodriguez sent about five rows deep in the seats in rightfield.

The Stadium crowd, which came to its feet when A-Rod was introduced before the at-bat and remained standing during it, roared as the ball cleared the wall.

Rodriguez's teammates poured from the dugout to greet him. The Tigers' dugout appeared unmoved, though Joba Chamberlain, a former Yankee and A-Rod teammate, could be seen applauding.

David Price, who allowed Jeter's blast when he was with the Rays, watched from the Tigers' dugout.

The ovation greeting Jeter's accomplishment lasted nearly five minutes. Friday night's lasted just over two. After Rodriguez descended into the dugout, the crowd continued to cheer and he responded with a curtain call.

Given the acrimony between the Yankees and A-Rod over home run payments in his contract -- the club believes his home run milestones are not marketable because of his admitted use of PEDs and told him before spring training that it didn't intend to pay the $6 million for home run No. 660 or any other historic number he may reach -- there was some intrigue about how No. 3,000 would be handled at the Stadium.

Throughout the celebration, the Stadium scoreboard read: "Congratulations Alex! 3,000 hits!"

Rodriguez's climb toward the number has been a steady one. Hardly looking like a player putting too much pressure on himself to reach it, he entered Friday night with a .278/.384/.505 slash line, 12 homers (second-most on the team) and 34 RBIs (third-most). He was 8-for-his-last-22 entering Friday night, having gone 2-for-4 in Thursday night's victory over the Marlins to get within one of the milestone.

Entering Friday night, Rodriguez was 10-for-28 with a double, four home runs, four walks and a .357/.455/.821 slash line against Verlander.

Verlander, the American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner in 2011, entered the game with a 152-89 record and 3.53 ERA in his career.

Before the game, Joe Girardi, who had 1,100 career hits in his 15-year career, said he imagined getting No. 3,000 against a pitcher of Verlander's caliber probably would make the occasion a little more special, similar to Jeter's accomplishment in 2011 against Price, who went on to win the 2012 AL Cy Young Award.

"I'm sure there's something about it because someone's going to ask you one day, 'Who'd you accomplish that off?' '' Girardi said. "And to be able to say, 'I hit a home run off David Price,' [the reaction might be] 'Really? Wow.' It just puts a little more flavor to it.

"Hopefully for Alex it comes tonight and he [can] say, 'I did it off Justin Verlander, a Cy Young Award winner,' and it just does add to it a little bit. But I think for the most part, the guy [couldn't] care less in a sense. They just want to get it over with."

And on Friday night, A-Rod did.


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