New York Yankees designated hitter Alex Rodriguez hits his 659th home run in the first inning of a baseball game against the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium in New York, Sunday, April 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
The Yankees just took a 5-2 lead on an Alex Rodriguez double in the second inning of tonight’s rubber game in the Subway Series. The Yankees won game 1 and the Mets stormed back behind Matt Harvey to win game 2 on Saturday.
But here’s something to consider, via ESPN’s Buster Olney on Twitter.
Alex Rodriguez, following that double, needs one more home run for 660, 18 more RBI for 2,000 and 45 more hits for 3,000.
The only other player in baseball history to have at least 660 home runs, 2,000 RBI and 3,000 hits? Hank Aaron.
Barry Bonds and Willy Mays never drove in 2,000 runs, although Bonds was close at 1,996. Babe Ruth finished his career with 2,873 hits.
So that will be quite an accomplishment when A-Rod passes all three of those milestones. Of course, there’s the PED asterisk, but that’s a story for another day…
We’ll see how the rest of this game pans out (the Yankees cling to a 5-4 lead in the third as I write this…) but let’s take a look at the upcoming schedules for both of these teams and try to see if first place remains a likelihood for either.
Let’s start with the Yankees’ next five series.
vs. Tampa Bay (3 games)
at Boston (3 games)
at Toronto (3 games)
vs. Baltimore (4 games)
at Tampa Bay (4 games)
This could well be a period where one team emerges atop the AL East…or it could be a long slog of all of these teams beating each other up early in the season.
Say what you will about the collection of talent the Yankees have put together this year, but you can’t argue that this team has stayed remarkably healthy through the first month of the season. The pitching has been fine, or better than that, depending on your perspective, but aside from a few A-Rod hot streaks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, the offense has struggled.
That might not be a huge problem looking at the schedule coming up. Tampa Bay has a ton of players on the disabled list, so this might be a good time to play 7 games against the Rays before they get healthy. And Boston, Toronto and Baltimore don’t exactly carry top-shelf, ace-quality pitchers in their starting rotations. That’s not to say that these teams don’t have good pitchers, but they will be throwing out guys that are eminently beatable on any given night, so perhaps that’s the spark this offense needs.
This will be a key stretch for the Yankees. Maybe they surge ahead, maybe they fall behind. Most likely, they’ll be hanging around just as they are now, flirting with playoff contention.
The Mets are 14-4 through their first 18 games, a remarkable start for a team that was heading into the season with plenty of optimism.
But even the most die-hard Mets fan probably wouldn’t have predicted 14 wins by April 25.
Here are the Mets’ next five series:
at Miami (3 games)
vs. Washington (4 games)
vs. Baltimore (2 games)
at Philadelphia (3 games)
at Chicago-NL (4 games)
Aside from the series against the Phils, that’s a pretty killer stretch for this team, even with the success they’ve had against Miami so far.
With David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Jerry Blevins all on the disabled list, can the Mets’ subs fill in adequately until those guys return? Highly-touted catching prospect Kevin Plawecki hit his first career home run on Saturday, so maybe he’ll be able to match d’Arnaud’s offensive production in the interim.
There’s also been some buzz that the Mets could recall second base prospect Dilson Herrera to replace a slumping Daniel Murphy. Murphy was hitting .145 heading into tonight’s game with four extra base hits in 18 games. Herrera, acquired along with Vic Black in the John Buck/Marlon Byrd trade of 2013, is batting .364 through his first 15 games with Triple-A Las Vegas. Murphy is a free agent at season’s end, so the Mets may be motivated to trade him if they can find any takers – and find a replacement in the meantime.
Anyway, the Mets won’t keep winning games at a .778 clip for the rest of the season. The question is, when the inevitable slump comes, how bad will it be? How long will it last? Can they keep winning series, taking two of every three? This upcoming Washington-Baltimore-Cubs stretch should be a good test for this team.