new york – Alex Rodriguez added his own memento to Monument Park, even though retirement remains years off.
After struggling to hit his 600th home run, A-Rod reached the milestone with his usual dramatic flair. He became the youngest player to attain the mighty mark and did it by driving a pitch over Yankee Stadium’s center-field fence and into the area where the pinstriped greats are remembered. And remarkably, he did it exactly three years to the day after his 500th homer.
“That’s amazing,” said Rodriguez, who was eight days past his 35th birthday. “To the day.”
Ruth was 36 years, 196 days old for No. 600.
A-Rod’s two-run, first-inning drive off Toronto’s Shaun Marcum put New York ahead, and the Yankees coasted to a 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays on a sweltering Wednesday afternoon.
Rodriguez went 9-for-46 after homering on July 22, the longest stretch between Nos. 599 and 600 for any of the seven to reach the mark. He was hitless in his previous 17 at-bats.
“It was a relief just to put it past me,” he said. “There’s no question I was pressing ’cause I wanted to get it out of the way.”
A-Rod reached the milestone after a 12-game drought, connecting with a 2-0 pitch over the middle of the plate from Marcum for his 17th home run of the season.
Frankie Babilonia, a 23-year-old in his second-year as a Yankee Stadium security guard, retrieved the ball and gave it to his supervisor, who had it passed on to Rodriguez. Babilonia got to the ball because another security guard in the area was on break, and he was rewarded with an autographed A-Rod bat.
Babilonia said it was his job to turn in the ball, and he never thought about trying to keep it.