Red Sox Notes: Sandy Leon Surprised A-Rod Had Green Light On Home Run

BOSTON — Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run also marked his first home run in one respect.

Rodriguez tied Willie Mays for fourth place on Major League Baseball’s all-time home run list with No. 660 on Friday as the New York Yankees defeated the Boston Red Sox 3-2 at Fenway Park. The blast, which put the Yankees in front in the eighth inning, marked the first pinch-hit homer of A-Rod’s career.

Rodriguez, pinch-hitting for Garrett Jones, jumped all over a 3-0 fastball from Junichi Tazawa. It was a total rocket into the Green Monster seats, heightening the already hellacious boos at Fenway.

Let’s go over some notes from Boston’s disappointing loss.

— Rodriguez entered Friday with a career .063 average (1-for-16) as a pinch-hitter. His only other pinch hit was a single against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 25, 2013.

— Rodriguez was emotional after the game. He described himself as “speechless” when told that Mays expressed approval of his accomplishment.

“Any time you’re sandwiched between Willie Mays and Babe Ruth, it’s pretty special,” Rodriguez said.

— This wasn’t the first time A-Rod victimized Tazawa. The controversial slugger also homered off Tazawa in the right-hander’s major league debut on Aug. 7, 2009.

That homer was a two-run shot in the 15th inning to propel the Yankees to a 2-0 win.

— Sandy Leon replaced Ryan Hanigan behind the plate in the seventh inning after Hanigan was struck on the right hand by a pitch from Tommy Layne that ricocheted off the batter, Mark Teixeira.

Leon said after the game he was surprised Rodriguez had the green light on 3-0.

“I didn’t think he was going to swing,” Leon said. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

— Hanigan will miss substantial time with a broken finger, according to manager John Farrell. It’s obviously a big blow for a starting rotation that’s trying to become more consistent.

“It’ll come down to getting on the same page behind the dish, and that’s something Hanigan did really well,” said Justin Masterson, who allowed two runs on six hits over six innings Friday. “Understanding what guys like to do, and making it easier on the pitcher. Guys are going to have to think a little bit more, work a bit harder.”

— Dustin Pedroia is swinging a hot stick.

Pedroia is hitting .333 (20-for-60) in his last 16 games. He has reached base safely in seven straight games.

— Allen Craig’s fourth-inning home run snapped a 106-at-bat homerless drought.

— Mike Napoli has reached base in 32 consecutive starts against the Yankees, marking the longest such streak by a Red Sox player versus New York since Wade Boggs reached base in 54 straight starts (1984-89).

— The Red Sox’s loss marked the first time Boston lost a series opener all season. They had won their first seven series openers for just the third time in franchise history.

— Rusney Castillo, who is coming off a shoulder injury, is expected to play right field with Pawtucket early next week, according to Farrell. There’s no timetable as far as a major league call-up.

— Shane Victorino (hamstring) could play in a rehab game as early as the middle of next week. The rehab stint likely will be with Triple-A Pawtucket.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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