Third baseman alone in fifth place after blast off Verlander in second
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez resumed his climb on baseball's home run list on Sunday, connecting for his first long ball of the season, a solo second-inning blast to left field off Justin Verlander in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Tigers.
For Rodriguez, it was his 648th career home run and also accounted for his 1,951st career RBI, surpassing Stan Musial (1,950) for sole possession of fifth place on baseball's all-time list.
"That means I'm getting old," Rodriguez said. "When you think about names like that, it's obviously so humbling. It makes you think that you've been around a long time. Those are things that you kind of reflect years after you're done playing."
Rodriguez -- who has appealed a 211-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and the Basic Agreement -- is now within 12 homers of Willie Mays (660). His Yankees contract includes a $6 million bonus if he matches Mays' total.
"The pitch he hit for a homer -- popup in most ballparks," Verlander said. "I don't know, it could've gotten out in some other parks, but here it's kind of a no-doubter.
"It was a pitch in, not as in as I would like, but it's in there with good velocity on it, and he was still able to turn it around, which is something he wasn't able to do for a while."
Due to discrepancies in historical record-keeping, accounts of Musial's career RBIs total differ. The Elias Sports Bureau is the official statistician of Major League Baseball and recognizes Musial as having 1,950 RBIs, while other sources -- including MLB.com -- credit him with 1,951 RBIs.
Rodriguez had been receiving mixed reactions from the Yankee Stadium crowd after his name was announced over the public address system, but he heard loud cheers while rounding the bases after the home run.
The fans booed when Rodriguez booted a Victor Martinez foul ball in the third inning, but he also made two sharp defensive plays and enjoyed a largely positive reception on Sunday.
"I think the fans have been incredible. I said that yesterday," Rodriguez said. "You want to turn boos into cheers, you want to go out and make them proud. All you want is really an opportunity and a chance."