A-Rod gets record 7 RBIs in 1 inning of Yanks' win
Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer on his first swing of the season and smacked a grand slam on his last. The New York Yankees slugger was pretty impressive in between, too.
Setting what he hopes will be the tone for a successful playoff run, Rodriguez homered twice and drove in an AL-record seven runs in a 10-run sixth inning Sunday, helping the AL East champions finish the regular season with a 10-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
"We have one goal and it's to win 11 games," he said, looking ahead to the postseason. "If we get to 11 wins, that's means we're going to get contributions from everyone."
On this day, he was a one-man wrecking crew.
Rodriguez hit a three-run homer off Wade Davis, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. He added his 18th career grand slam later in the inning after Andy Sonnanstine issued an intentional walk to league co-home run champion Mark Teixeira to load the bases.
"It was awesome. That was a great inning for him and for the team," Teixiera said. "It's good to have a nice offensive output like that the last game of the season and give us some momentum."
The previous AL record of six RBIs in an inning was accomplished 12 times, most recently by Boston's David Ortiz on Aug. 12, 2008. The major league record is eight, set by Fernando Tatis, who hit two grand slams in an inning for St. Louis on April 23, 1999.
New York, preparing to open the playoffs at home against Detroit or Minnesota on Wednesday or Thursday, finished with a 103-59 record, its best since 103-58 in 2002.
Tampa Bay dropped to 84-78 after going 97-65 last year and reaching the World Series for the first time.
A-Rod moved into a tie with Mark McGwire for eighth on the career list with 583 homers. It also gave him at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the 13th time - including the past 12 seasons - despite missing the first month with a hip injury.
"Unbelievable," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He needed two homers and seven RBIs to keep his streak alive. It's really pretty amazing. That's the player he is."
A.J. Burnett (13-9) pitched five innings for the victory, enabling the Yankees to avoid a weekend sweep.
Joba Chamberlain, who could be headed for the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs, tossed a perfect inning in relief as Girardi continued to get the pitching staff ready for the postseason.
Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman will meet Monday to begin discussions on the playoff roster.
A year after making an improbable run to the American League pennant, the Rays finished 19 games behind the Yankees in the division. Evan Longoria scored both of the runs off Burnett, hitting his 33rd homer in the first and racing home on a passed ball to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
Rookies Davis (2-2), Jeff Niemann and David Price combined for 25 wins and are part of the reason the Rays are optimistic about their prospects of returning to the top of the AL East next year.
"There's no doubt we'll be right back in it, and our goal is to get to the World Series again in 2010. Period," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Nothing else really matters in regard to our goal-setting."