Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are forever linked, whether they like it or not, for a number of reasons. Both were part of a group of elite shortstops who came to baseball’s forefront around the same time. They took different paths to get to 3,000 hits, but they now share another bond.
Each made his 3,000th hit a homer as a member of the New York Yankees. Rodriguez did so against the Tigers and Justin Verlander in the first inning on Friday night. He became the 29th member of the 3,000-hit club. Jeter's home run came in 2011 against another Cy Young winner, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Jeter and Rodriguez are the only two players to reach the 3,000-hit mark with the Yankees. They’re two of three to reach with a homer, the other being Wade Boggs, a former Yankee who did so as a member of the Rays.
That Rodriguez hit the home run against Verlander was not that surprising. He’s homered in each of the past four games he’s played against Verlander.
But what was surprising was the pitch against which Rodriguez hit it.
Verlander attacked Rodriguez with a fastball clocked at 94.9 mph. It’s the fastest pitch Rodriguez has homered on since hitting one thrown 95.7 mph by Pedro Strop on Sept. 8, 2012.
Before his home run, Rodriguez was 3-for-21 in at-bats ending with pitches thrown that fast this season.
The home run was calculated at 373 feet to right-center field. It would have been a home run only at Yankee Stadium.
Notes, stats and trends
Rodriguez became the sixth player to play for the Yankees and reach 3,000 hits at some point in his career (whether with the Yankees or not). The others are Jeter, Boggs, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Paul Waner (who had one hit with the team).
Rodriguez is the third player in major league history with 3,000 hits and 600 home runs. The other two are Hank Aaron and Willie Mays.
Rodriguez is the first No. 1 overall draft pick to reach the 3,000-hit mark.
Did you know?
Verlander is the second Tigers pitcher to allow someone’s 3,000th hit. The other was Pug Cavet, who allowed Nap Lajoie’s 3,000th hit in 1914.
The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the new Yankee Stadium is the second park to host two games in which a player recorded his 3,000th hit in front of his home crowd.
The other is Cleveland’s League Park, which was the site for Lajoie and Tris Speaker (1925).
The only other ballparks that have hosted more than one game in which a player reached the 3,000-hit milestone are the Metrodome (Winfield, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken), Tiger Stadium (Ty Cobb and Eddie Collins) and Angel Stadium (Rod Carew and George Brett).