Crazy as it seems, teams still load the bases so they can pitch to Alex Rodriguez. On purpose.
For the second time this season, A-Rod made them pay in the worst way, hitting a grand slam that sparked the Yankees' six-run seventh inning and turned a pitching duel Andy Pettitte was winning into an 11-2 rout of the Cleveland Indians yesterday at Yankee Stadium.
Both of Rodriguez' slams this season came after Mark Teixeira was intentionally walked ahead of him, and A-Rod is 5-for-5 with 18 RBI when teams intentionally pitch around Teixeira.
"I felt it coming, for some reason," Rodriguez said. "I would appreciate if we keep these numbers to ourselves, and not share them with any other managers."
Not that it's any big secret that Rodriguez, whose seventh homer this season gave him 590 in his career, is a tough out - even without the bases loaded.
"The best thing for us to do in that situation, once he got behind, 3-1, was to just put him on and try to get a double play," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Even better would be avoiding the sort of situation in the first place, something the Indians failed at throughout the series.
The Indians' top lefthanded reliever, Tony Sipp, had been brought in to face Curtis Granderson twice already in the series. Both times, he gave up doubles, so this time Acta called on Rafael Perez with one out, one on and, yep, Granderson due to bat.
Granderson singled, and a wild pitch allowed him and pinch-runner Ramiro Pena to take a base, leading to the intentional walk of Teixeira.
"The whole series, basically, turned on three at-bats," Acta said. "Three times, we couldn't make pitches to Granderson. Forget about the home runs. He came in hitting .199 against lefthanded pitchers and he was 3-for-3 against our guys."
Cleveland starter Mitch Talbot (6-4) left with the Indians trailing only 2-1. He held down the Yankees' lineup, but the Indians couldn't get anything going against Pettitte (7-1), and by the time they came back up again in the top of the eighth, the Indians were seven runs behind.
Talbot was charged with three runs on nine hits.
Pettitte pitched seven innings, allowing three singles and Jhonny Peralta's 100th career homer, while striking out five without a walk. He retired his last 14 batters and improved to 6-0 with a 1.12 ERA in six day starts this year.
Before the game, Yankees catcher Jorge Posada ran the bases and in the field as he rehabs a broken bone in his right foot.
In other games:
* At Kansas City, Ervin Santana (5-3) pitched seven strong innings and the Los Angeles Angels roughed up Luke Hochevar early on the way to a 7-1 win over the Royals.
* At Detroit, Rajai Davis scored twice and Trevor Cahill continued to pitch well as the Oakland Athletics beat the Tigers, 4-1.
Oakland has won five out of seven games during its ongoing, 10-game trip.
* At Toronto, Brandon Morrow (4-4) pitched seven strong innings, and the Blue Jays threw out the potential tying run at the plate in the ninth inning to preserve a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
* At Seattle, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel homered on consecutive pitches, Delmon Young hit a two-run shot and the Minnesota Twins held on to win their fifth consecutive game, 5-4, over the Mariners.