Michael Jordan… Jim Palmer… Sugar Ray Leonard… Apollo Creed against Ivan Drago… Alex Rodriguez… what do these all have in common? All failed comebacks. OK, A-Rod’s return to the lineup today wasn’t as sad as watching MJ in a Wizards uni. And, he didn’t get killed like Apollo Creed did. But, the return of Rodriguez DID coincide with the end of the Yankees 8-game win streak. And, there was some sort of fitting symmetry to A-Rod taking a called 3rd strike for the final out in Sunday’s 7-3 loss. The Bombers managed to go 11-3 while Rodriguez was on the DL with a strained left calf. In those 14 games, the Yanks scored 3 runs or fewer only 3 times. Something about the offense clicked, despite the absence of the 3-time MVP. Hmmm…. A-Rod did go 2-for-5 with an RBI in his return.
Anyway, the return of Rodriguez was really secondary in this loss to the struggles of Phil Hughes. The Blue Jays took Hughes deep 3 times Sunday – the 23rd, 24th and 25th home runs surrendered by the big righty this season. That’s the 4th-highest total in the AL behind James Shields, teammate Javy Vazquez and Kevin Millwood. But, the Jays do like to mash – they’ve hit a major-league best 208 long balls on the season. It was the 3rd time in 4 starts against Toronto that Hughes has given up at least 5 earned runs.
But, take heart Yankees fans, as the Orioles beat up Rays pitching for an 8-7 O’s win and the Yankees lead remains at 2.5 games. So, now all that’s left is to find out how Andy Pettitte feels after Saturday’s simulated game. I’ll update with that info as soon as we have some word from Girardi.