ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Alex
Rodriguez homered twice and drove in an AL-record seven runs in a
10-run sixth to help the playoff-bound New York Yankees finish the
regular season with a 10-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.
Rodriguez hit a three-run homer off
Wade Davis, giving the AL East champions a 3-2 lead. He added his 18th
career grand slam later in the inning after Andy Sonnanstine issued an
intentional walk to league co-home run champion Mark Teixiera to load
New York, preparing to open the
playoffs at home against Detroit or Minnesota on Wednesday or Thursday,
finished with a 103-59 record, its best since 103-58 in 2002.
Tampa Bay dropped to 84-78 after going 97-65 last year and reaching the World Series for the first time.
A-Rod moved into a tie with Mark
McGwire for eighth on the career list with 583 homers. It also gave him
at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the 13th time — including the past
12 seasons — despite missing the first month with a hip injury.
A.J. Burnett (13-9) pitched five innings for the victory, enabling the Yankees to avoid a weekend sweep.
Joba Chamberlain, who could be headed
for the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs, tossed a perfect
inning in relief as manager Joe Girardi continued preparing for the
A year after making an improbable run
to the American League pennant, the Rays finished 19 games behind the
Yankees in the division. Evan Longoria scored both of the runs off
Burnett, hitting his 33rd homer in the first and racing home on a
passed ball to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
Rookies Davis (2-2), Jeff Niemann and
David Price combined for 25 wins and are part of the reason the Rays
are optimistic about their prospects of returning to the top of the AL
East in 2010.
The 24-year-old right-hander limited
the Yankees to three singles over the first five innings, then couldn't
get anyone out in the sixth. Johnny Damon began New York's big inning
with a double and later helped keep it alive for A-Rod with a two-run
double off Sonnanstine that made it 6-2.
The previous AL record of six RBIs
in an inning was accomplished 12 times, most recently by Boston's David
Ortiz on Aug. 12, 2008.
Rodriguez was sidelined until May 8
after hip surgery, then homered on the first pitch he saw from
Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie. He began Sunday with 28 homers and 93 RBIs.
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner
visited with the team for about an hour in the clubhouse before the
game and later said he's "excited" about the playoffs, which will start
later this week.
The 79-year-old Steinbrenner made
the trip to Tropicana Field from his home in nearby Tampa for the
second time this season. He also met with the players before the
Yankees' 6-2 win in St. Petersburg on July 29.
Steinbrenner attended the opener at
the new Yankee Stadium on April 16 and is expected to be on hand for
some of New York's home playoff games.
Teixeira and Tampa Bay's
Carlos Pena tied for the AL home run title with 39. … Yankees LHP
Andy Pettitte wound up earning $10.5 million of the $12 million
available under his contract — $500,000 more than the Yankees' original
offer of $10 million guaranteed that he failed to accept. Pettitte had
a $5.5 million base salary, earned $3 million based on innings and $2
million for staying on the active roster the entire season. He missed
$750,000 bonuses for 200 and 210 innings, finishing with 194 2/3. …
Rays manager Joe Maddon sat All-Stars Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford.
Bartlett finished with a career-best .320 batting average, a team
record. Crawford, who batted .305, set the previous mark of .315 in
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