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A-Rod hits El Duque's eephus pitch for HR

8/26/2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Jason Giambi reached 100 RBI and Derek Jeter
scored his 100th run. Alfonso Soriano set a team record for homers
by a second baseman and Bernie Williams got three more hits.

Yet on big day for the New York Yankees' bats, most of the talk
was about one pitch: a blooper by Orlando Hernandez that Alex Rodriguez blasted.

A-Rod hit his major league-leading 46th home run on an eephus
pitch from El Duque, the most entertaining moment Monday in the
Yankees' 10-3 romp over Texas. The two players even joked about it
outside the Rangers' clubhouse after the game, though they declined
to detail their discussion.

"You can expect a lot of different arm angles and a lot of
different pitches from him, but I never thought I'd get a 48 mph
curveball,'' Rodriguez said. "It looked like a slow pitch,
softball really. I think he threw one too many.''

Laughing, Duque agreed.

"It's possible it was a mistake,'' he said through a
translator.

"Why not use that pitch? It's the same as if he'd hit a
changeup or fastball,'' he added. "I don't think I'm fooling
anyone with that pitch.''

Hernandez (7-3) coasted through the early innings, keeping the
Rangers off-balance. He drew a laugh from Rodriguez in the opening
inning when he threw a blooper pitch for a ball.

Then in the sixth with a 4-0 lead, Hernandez floated up a 52 mph
pitch that Rodriguez took for a ball. El Duque decided to come back
with the same pitch, and Rodriguez timed it perfectly and launched
it over the left-field fence for a solo home run.

Hernandez glanced at Rodriguez while he trotted between second
and third, and A-Rod looked back when he was halfway home.

"I think he maybe got a little confident when A-Rod deposited
that loop pitch, or whatever you call it,'' Yankees manager Joe
Torre said. "You're pitching to perhaps the best player in
baseball in trying to tempt him twice.''

Rafael Palmeiro, who also watched a blooper in the first inning,
followed Rodriguez's drive with his 484th career home run,
connecting on a fastball.

A crowd of 42,785 turned out for the last date at Yankee Stadium
before Friday's strike deadline. There were only few signs of
dissatisfaction, including banners that popped out during the
seventh-inning stretch that read "U Strike and We're Gone
Forever'' and "Next Home Game 9/2?''

In the eighth, two fans holding anti-strike signs walked around
the lower deck. They drew no noticeable reaction.

"I want to keep playing,'' Giambi said.

It was a festive day as the AL East leaders feasted on Kenny Rogers (12-7). He gave up a career-high 13 hits in five-plus
innings -- one more hit would've tied the Rangers record shared by
Oil Can Boyd and Bobby Witt.

"The Yankees are always pretty disciplined. They give you
quality at-bats,'' Rogers said.

The Yankees wound up with a split of the four-game set and
finished 4-3 in the season series against the last-place Rangers.

Soriano's solo homer in the fourth broke the team mark for a
second baseman of 30 set by Joe Gordon in 1940.

Soriano also hit a two-run single to cap a five-run sixth.
Earlier in the inning, Jeter dashed home from third, making a
headfirst slide to beat catcher Bill Haselman's diving tag on Jorge
Posada's nubber.

Jeter joined Ted Williams (1939-49) and Earle Combs (1925-32) as
the only players in modern history to score at least 100 runs in
their first seven seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jeter scored again in the eighth on Giambi's single. Giambi has
had at least 100 RBI in five straight seasons.

Soriano and Williams each had three of New York's 19 hits.
Williams extended his hitting streak to 17 games and Ron Coomer had
a pair of RBI singles.

Jeff Weaver finished up with three innings for his second save,
striking out five.

Game notes
Rangers C Ivan Rodriguez did not play. He developed a
toothache Sunday night and saw a dentist. Texas had already planned
to give him a day off. ... Williams' hitting streak is the longest
for the Yankees since he had a 17-gamer in 2000. Williams also tied
Roy White for ninth place on the Yankees' career hit list with
1,803. ... The Japanese team that lost 1-0 to Louisville, Ky., in
the Little League World Series championship game Sunday night was
honored in a pregame tribute. ... Texas rookies Kevin Mench and
Travis Hafner, who had never faced the quirky Hernandez, were a
combined 0-for-6 with six strikeouts against him.