08/04/07 7:20 PM ET
Royals on wrong end of slugfest
DeJesus homers to lead comeback, but Davies, 'pen struggle
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
"I know they had a lot," Royals catcher Jason LaRue said. "I don't know how many it was, but it was a lot."
In fact, the Bronx Bombers socked, sprayed and splattered a total of 21 hits around Yankee Stadium on their way to a 16-8 victory in front of 54,056 sun and A-Rod worshippers.
Rodriguez's No. 500 came in the Yankees' four-run first inning against Kyle Davies, who was making his first Royals start. Derek Jeter singled, Bobby Abreu walked and Rodriguez lifted Davies' next pitch high over the left-field wall.
"I was trying to get a double play, a sinker down and in, and the ball came back over the middle a little bit," Davies said.
"It's probably not the right pitch to him. We talked about it after the inning, and maybe go up a little bit more and try to jam him. But with that ball down like that, he can get extended and that's what he did."
Just like that, the 28 at-bat wait for A-Rod to pound his milestone home run was over. The sellout crowd roared, Jeter was the first to hug him and history was made.
"I don't really think that much of it, to be honest with you," Rodriguez said. "But the energy of the fans just put it in perspective a little bit. It seemed like they cared more about it than I did. For me, I wanted to do it at home. I knew it would come at some point this year, but with two days remaining before we go on the road, I wanted to make sure we did it at home."
That he did, with some help from that down-and-in pitch from Davies that wasn't as down-and-in as the pitcher wanted. It was a pitch that Rodriguez could handle.
"I've conceded the fact that you can't will yourself to hit a home run," Rodriguez said. "I tried hard for about five days."
This development launched what was to become a long afternoon for the Royals, seeming longer even than the four hours and one minute the game consumed.
Davies lasted only three innings and gave up five runs in his Kansas City debut. The bullpen, so superb recently, was torched for 11 runs in the other five innings.
John Bale, Joel Peralta, David Riske, Zack Greinke and Jimmy Gobble all were roughed up to varying degrees. Only Joakim Soria, who worked a perfect eighth, escaped the Yankees' wrath.
"You're going to have games like that, especially when you have a team like that swinging like they are," Royals manager Buddy Bell said. "I mean, they're not getting bleeders. They're hitting the ball hard."
Greinke, who had a 1.76 ERA in his previous 18 outings, could not retire even one of the five batters he faced. Jeter, Abreu, Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui all raked him for hits, then Jorge Posada walked.
Without hesitation, Greinke pointed out what he had on this afternoon in the Bronx.
"Nothing, and they're the best-hitting team ever," he said. "That combination made it work how it worked."
When the CPAs were done with the box score, it showed that Rodriguez finished 3-for-4 with a walk. Robinson Cano had four hits. Three each were posted by Jeter, Abreu, Matsui and Wilson Betemit. Abreu had a home run. Cano and Betemit each joined Rodriguez with three RBIs.
"Mainly, they're just on fire, and obviously it's tough when you have to go as long as we had to go," Greinke said.
"It's hard to stop them."
On an ordinary day, the Royals' 13 hits and eight runs would have represented a glorious flood. Mark Teahen and Ross Gload each had three hits, and David DeJesus hit a two-run homer. DeJesus and Gload each drove in three runs.
Give the Royals credit for a comeback. In the fifth inning, they chased Yankees starter Phil Hughes and gained a 6-6 tie. But the Bronx blitz was just beginning.
"They're on fire and they're a great hitting team," LaRue said. "So you put that together and you have what you have today."
The Yankees have won five of their last six and 11 of their last 15. Since the All-Star break, they're a Major League-best 17-7.
They're also Kansas City tormentors, winning 26 of 29 games from the Royals at Yankee Stadium since 2000.
Now they've added Rodriguez home run No. 500 to the Royals' debit column.
"You just try to go out there and win a ballgame," Davies said. "If a guy hits a home run, he hits a home run. He's hit 500 other ones."
Or, to be precise, 499 others.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.