Alex Rodriguez finally nabbed home run number 600 on Wednesday afternoon and became the youngest player ever (at 35) to reach the milestone. Only Yankees legend Babe Ruth was close to that age when he hit his 600th homer at age 36.
Alongside the hoopla of A-Rod’s milestone, the New York Yankees (67–40) finally managed to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5–1 after dropping the first two games at home as part of a three-game series.
The Yanks did it with solid defense and great pitching from Phil Hughes (13–4) who allowed only five hits and one run through five innings.
With two outs and Derek Jeter on second in the bottom of the first inning, Rodriguez stepped up to the plate surrounded by a crescendo of applause from the thousands of fans in attendance.
Jays pitcher Shaun Marcum threw a fastball to the Yankees slugger and the rest was history as he smashed it to deep center, driving the fans to their feet and whipping them into a frenzy.
After rounding third, Rodriguez was met at home plate by Jeter who gave him high fives along with Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.
Swisher was giddy with excitement for his teammate's accomplishment. Speaking with the YES Network, he exclaimed, "It was just such a great moment. We've been waiting for this for a while now. He's just a great athlete and to reach such a great milestone, it was an honor for all of us to be there and witness that."
Yankees coach Joe Girardi also greeted Rodriguez on his way to the dugout and was happy for him, saying, "I know how much Al just wants to get down to baseball and win games and not be the talk. He's been so productive for us. He's been consistent. There's a lot of emotions, but really happiness right now."
After teammates hugged and congratulated him, A-Rod recognized the huge support of the fans, made his way to the field and tipped his helmet in appreciation to the cheering crowd—the huge hit was A-Rod’s 17th home run of the year.
For the fans, this hit was special. Because not only did they want to witness a newest tale of Yankees lore, they also wanted to cheer A-Rod on as they were aware of his recent frustrations coming into Wednesday’s game—he had only nine hits in his last 46 at-bats and had been without a homer over the last 12 games since hitting one on July 22 in a game against the Kansas City Royals. So, this hit was special for many reasons.
Alex Rodriguez joins an elite group of players to have hit 600 home runs, including Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Sammy Sosa (609), and Ken Griffey Jr. (630). With Griffey now retired and A-Rod with plenty left in the tank, he has a chance to become the all-time home run leader as long as he remains healthy.
Celebrating after the game, Jeter admitted that his fellow teammate still has a lot of game left in him, saying, "It's hard to believe. He got to 600 pretty quickly, so I'm sure this won't be the last milestone. There's a lot of good things for him to come."
After Wednesday's win, the Yanks will have to regroup from the beating they took from the Jays. They have another round of important games coming up on Friday facing third place AL East rival, the Boston Red Sox as part of a four-game series.