Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is playing in his 11th playoff series, (five with Seattle and six with New York) and already is on track to have his most productive postseason.
Despite winning three American League MVP awards, Rodriguez traditionally has wilted in the October spotlight. However, Wednesday night's 2-for-4, two-RBI performance in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Twins at Yankee Stadium was a step in the right direction.
The Yankees have known about A-Rod's October troubles for years and even called in an expert of sorts to help him deal with them. Reggie Jackson, who earned the nickname "Mr. October" for his postseason heroics, speaks to Rodriguez about the pressure and expectations of postseason play every year. Jackson made his usual prediction that Rodriguez would have a good series — a prediction that's proven erroneous in the past — but this season, Rodriguez's teammates are echoing the great Yankee slugger.
“He seems relaxed," catcher Jorge Posada told SI.com. “He seems focused out there.”
Closer Mariano Rivera claims that Rodriguez has been "great."
And shortstop Derek Jeter said that Rodriguez "seems very comfortable since he's been back."
The outward support from Rodriguez's teammates may be the biggest difference between this and previous playoff years. Game 2 of the ALDS is scheduled for Friday night at 6:07 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. If Rodriguez can repeat his performance from Game 1, he'll already be in possession of his most successful postseason as a Yankee.
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