Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates his home run with Mark Teixeira #25 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez has some advice for his first-place Yankees: 'Stay hungry and humble'

Mike Petraglia
July 10, 2015 - 8:21 pm

The mere thought of Alex Rodriguez giving advice on humility might make many laugh and crack a cynical joke or two. But that's exactly what the aging superstar did Friday night after he helped power the first-place Yankees past the Red Sox, 5-1, at Fenway Park. "Yeah, it's always important to get the first one out of any series, especially here," Rodriguez said. The Yankees are now 47-39, guaranteed of hitting the All-Star break in first place in the A.L. East. They've actually put some distance between themselves and the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays, all of whom have been slumping badly in the last week. "This group has a good feel to it," Rodriguez said. "It's a hard-working group. It competes hard every night, and I think the key for us finishing the first half and also continuing into the second half is to stay hungry and humble." Rodriguez, still hearing the catcalls and boobirds loud and clear, homered in the first inning off red-hot starter Clay Buchholz to stake his team to 1-0 lead. It was his 17th round-tripper of the season, second only to the 22 of Mark Teixeira. While Buchholz had been showing ace stuff (two earned runs over his last four starts), it's not a surprise that Rodriguez had success right off the bat against the Red Sox starter in the first inning. Rodriguez came in hitting .407 (11-for-27) lifetime with two home runs against Buchholz. "He's been dominant here the last three or four games," Rodriguez said. "We know that. He came off a complete game. Clay's always a great competitor. Just got a good pitch to hit and hit it well. Sometimes numbers can be deceiving. I can't say that I feel all that well up there. The key with Clay is get a good pitch to hit. He has a number of a ways of getting you out. You don't want to chase." In Rodriguez's next at-bat he singled off Alejandro De Aza's glove in right. In his third plate appearance, Rodriguez showed he can be patient, too, working a bases loaded walk against Robbie Ross after the Red Sox spent the fourth inning kicking around the ball. Rodriguez would strike out in the seventh and ground out in the ninth but his night ended 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a role as a leader on a team that has won all four games played this season at Fenway. Those are interesting words for Rodriguez to choose because those are pretty much the very same words manager Joe Girardi used to express how Rodriguez would regain the trust of his teammates in spring training after serving a one-year suspension for PED violations in the Biogenesis scandal. What Girardi has seen on the field is a re-born Rodriguez, who has kept his mouth shut and let his bat try to serve as penance on his disgraced big league career. With 49 RBIs, he second to Teieira in that category as well. He earned his second RBI of the night when he worked a bases-loaded walk off Ross in New York's three-run fourth. "It's another RBI," Girardi said. "A four-run lead is [big]. This is a ballpark where runs can come quickly, and we've seen Boston do it a lot of times. That's a good at-bat and it's an extra run." Girardi gave Rodriguez the day off on Thursday in a win over Oakland. Girardi is trying to keep Rodriguez fresh, as he turns 40 on July 27. "I think Joe's been great," Rodriguez said. "He's been navigating all the veteran players well. I'm no exception to that. I felt good today."