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(AP) — Alex Rodriguez’s home run drought is delaying him from reaching a statistical milestone. The New York Yankees could badly use a homer from their superstar right now, for more than symbolic reasons.
Rodriguez again will try to snap out of his slump and help the Yankees avoid their first three-game losing streak since June when they continue their home series against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.
Winners of seven of their last 10, the Blue Jays (55-51) opened this three-game set Monday night with an 8-6 victory. Travis Snider had two of Toronto’s AL record-tying six doubles in a seven-run fifth inning, and the Jays made the resulting six-run lead stand.
“It really didn’t set in that we were just hitting doubles,” Snider said. “I didn’t realize that until after the game that we had tied the record. Anytime you can put together an inning like that it’s a good step for the ballclub.”
Snider’s Blue Jays might have lost the lead were it not for the continuing struggles of Rodriguez, who went 0 for 5 as his season average fell to .266 – its lowest since May 7. The Yankees slugger is 9 for 43 in 11 games since hitting his 599th career homer against Kansas City, already the longest drought in major league history between a player’s 599th and 600th home runs.
“I thought I swung the bat better (Monday). I had some pretty good pitches to hit,” Rodriguez said. “The difference between 0 for 5 and 2 for 5 is small.”
The slump may be impacting New York’s success as a team. As a result of their first consecutive losses since June 29-30 against Seattle, the Yankees (66-39) have fallen into a tie atop the AL East with surging Tampa Bay for the first time since June 19. That was one day after New York’s last three-game skid – something it will try to avoid Tuesday.
Perhaps a matchup with Toronto starter Ricky Romero (8-7, 3.46 ERA) will help the Yankees break out. They roughed up the left-hander for eight runs in 2 2-3 innings of an 11-3 victory July 3 at Yankee Stadium, scoring all of their runs in the third inning. Rodriguez went 0 for 2 against Romero in that matchup.
Romero pitched much better in last Tuesday’s 8-2 victory over Baltimore, retiring 12 of the first 13 batters he faced and giving up two runs in 7 2-3 innings. However, he hasn’t beaten an AL opponent other than the league-worst Orioles since May 15. Since then, he is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in three starts versus Baltimore, and 0-5 with a 6.46 ERA in seven outings against other AL clubs.
He will be opposed by Dustin Moseley (1-0, 3.24), making his second start in place of Andy Pettitte, who is on the disabled list with a strained groin. Moseley’s first start as a Yankee was a success. He gave up one run in six innings of Thursday’s 11-4 victory at Cleveland.
Moseley has also made four relief appearances this season, including two perfect innings against Toronto on July 3. His only previous start against the Blue Jays came in 2007, when he took a loss for the Los Angeles Angels after giving up two runs in five innings.
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