MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

A-Rod closes in on 700 club with homer 692

A-Rod closes in on 700 club with homer 692

BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez had his own weekend to remember, even though the Yankees had one they'd rather forget because the Red Sox swept the three-game series.

A-Rod crushed a two-run homer and two-run double off Red Sox left-hander David Price on Sunday night in a game the Yankees lost, 8-7, giving him four RBIs on the evening and five home runs on the season.

He hit another homer here on Friday night, and both soared into the seats above the Green Monster in left-center at Fenway Park. The double on Sunday night also came pretty close.

The march to the 700-homers plateau is growing ever closer, with A-Rod at 692. And though he still doesn't want to address it, some of his closest Yankees teammates are certainly noticing.

"This is a lot of fun to watch," Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia said. "I watched [Mariano Rivera] set the record for career saves. I watched [Derek Jeter] get his 3,000th hit. But going after 700 is really something to be a part of."

"I mean, it's just great," added Carlos Beltran. "To get that sort of number means you have to be productive for so many years. I've never played with a guy who has hit 700, so it will be special, no doubt."

No kidding. A-Rod would be just the fourth player in Major League history and second right-handed hitter to reach 700 homers. Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) are the others.

For A-Rod, he's hit 59 of those homers against the Red Sox and 29 of them at Fenway Park. The most he's hit against any team is his 70 against the Angels. He's also hit 67 vs. the Orioles and 33 at Camden Yards, where the struggling, 8-15 Yankees open a three-game series on Tuesday night.

It is a long season, and for A-Rod, April was a long month. He batted .185 and the Yankees opened 8-14, matching their April in 1984, when they went on to 8-17 before the ship righted and they ultimately won 87 games.

"This is extremely frustrating," Rodriguez said. "We felt like we had one in the bag on Friday night, and this one as well. It's a good team over there. They're playing very well. Hopefully we can build on our offensive approach tonight."

A-Rod said the key to his offensive renaissance was the fact that manager Joe Girardi rested him for two games at Texas this past Monday and Tuesday. The Yanks' designated hitter felt a twinge in his left oblique warming up to hit against the Rays in the sixth inning a week ago at Yankee Stadium.

MRIs on the afflicted area were negative. Since that Tampa Bay game, Rodriguez has gone 6-for-16 with three homers, three doubles and seven RBIs. He was 5-for-14 this weekend.

"I've been telling you guys for a while, sometimes it just takes older guys a little longer to get going," said A-Rod, who will be 41 years old on July 27. "The last two weeks I've been feeling a little bit better. I'm not trying to do too much."

Rodriguez has this year and next to go on his contract, and beyond 700 homers, Ruth is certainly within reach just 22 away. A-Rod hit 33 homers last year, and at that pace, Ruth's stature in third place on the all-time list can also be attained this season.

A-Rod is certainly starting to flourish. He was batting .100 and on an 0-for-19 streak when he homered against the Mariners at Yankee Stadium on April 17. Since then, he's been steadily progressing, lifting his batting average to .203 on Sunday night.

The difference is A-Rod's approach at the plate, Girardi said. He's staying back on the ball, using more of the field and not trying to rip into every pitch.

"It's a work in progress still," Rodriguez said. "I'm seeing the ball better. My swing is getting a little bit shorter. It's getting better."

And 700 is getting closer, ever closer.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.