Ten years ago tonight, Alex Rodriguez had himself quite a game. That day, April 26, 2005, the Yankees were facing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on a seemingly ordinary Tuesday evening in the Bronx. Carl Pavano (I know, I know) was starting for the Yankees and looking for his second win of the season while Bartolo Colon was starting for the Angels.
Pavano, who didn't get injured in this game, got the first two outs, gave up a single to the third batter of the night, Vladimir Guerrero, and then got Garret Anderson to groundout to first for the final out.
Colon started things off in the bottom of the first by walking Derek Jeter but got two quick outs after Bernie Williams popped out to foul territory by third base and Gary Sheffield hit a fly ball to centerfield. He gave up another walk to Hideki Matsui which set the stage for A-Rod.
With the count 2-2, Rodriguez hit Colon's fifth pitch of the at bat out of the park for a three-run home run. Crazily enough, he was just getting started.
Pavano set the Angels down in order in the top of the second and the Yankees didn't take advantage of a Tony Womack double in their half of the second.
Pavano ran into some trouble in the third thanks to a couple of walks, a single and a force out with the bases loaded and the Angels scored two runs.
In the bottom of the third, Sheffield walked between a Williams fly out and a Matsui fly out which brought Rodriguez to the plate again. And on the second pitch of the at bat, A-Rod put the Yankees up 5-2 with a two-run shot to left.
If you're keeping score, you'd know that at this point it was actually A-Rod 5, Angels 2.
In the fourth, Pavano allowed a Dallas McPherson home run (remember him?) but nothing more and the Yankees started the bottom of the fourth up 5-3.
That wouldn't last very long.
Andy Phillips reached base on an error by Chone Figgins. Womack hit a popfly to short. Jeter hit a single to move Phillips to third. Williams reached on another error by Figgins, Phillips scored and Jeter advanced to second. Sheffield hit a long fly ball to advance Jeter to third and Williams to second. Colon walked Matsui to load the bases for A-Rod.
I can remember watching this game. I was alone in my apartment, with my cats and I said out loud to myself, "There's no way he can hit a third home run, is there?"
And it took a little while - it was a seven-pitch at bat - but it happened and everyone predictably went nuts.
Angels' manager Mike Scioscia finally and mercifully pulled Colon from the game after Alex rounded the bases.
In just four innings of play, Rodriguez had three home runs and nine RBI. He'd finish 4-5 on the night - he added an RBI single in the sixth off Kevin Gregg who replaced Colon after his grand slam - and the Yankees would go on to win the game 12-4.
So how did A-Rod feel that night?
"Definitely tonight was one of those magical nights. I've hit three home runs twice before, but nothing feels as special as this, doing it in New York, doing it in the pinstripes."
Some fun facts:
- All three of A-Rod's home runs came with two outs.
- The grand slam he hit in the fourth inning was the 11th of his career. He's hit 13 since then.
- Before A-Rod's magical night in 2005, Nomar Garciaparra was the last AL player to have 10 RBI in a game. He did it on May 10, 1999 against, funnily enough, A-Rod's Seattle Mariners.
- Rodriguez's Herculean performance overshadowed Pavano, who earned his first home win in Pinstripes that night.
- At the end of the night, A-Rod was in 46th place on the all-time home run list with 388 homers.
More facts about games where players have had 10 or more RBI:
- Phil Weintraub of the New York Giants had 11 RBI in a game on April 30, 1944 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He hit two doubles, a triple and a home run (no singles) and the Giants won 26-8.
- Mark Whiten of the St. Louis Cardinals had 12 RBI on four hits on September 7, 1993. All four hits were home runs and the Cardinals beat Cincinnati 15-2.
- From 1914-2015, 12 men have had 10 or more RBI in a game and six have hit three home runs.
- On August 21, 2007, Garret Anderson of the Angels had 10 RBI against the Yankees. He hit two doubles and two home runs. The Angels won that game 18-9.
- Fred Lynn of the Red Sox had 10 RBI in a game on June 18, 1975 against the Tigers. He hit three home runs, a triple and two singles.
[Numbers courtesy of Baseball Reference's Play Index]