With one out and one on in the eighth inning of a one-run game, Alex Rodriguez drove a ball toward the left field wall. Rodriguez began the early stages of his home run trot.
But the only thing the ball hit was the leather of left fielder Chris Heisey’s glove. Rodriguez let loose a choice profanity.
It was the same feeling that many Yankee fans felt after a 5-2 loss to the Reds on Sunday that featured three fly outs by Rodriguez.
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“We all did,” hitting coach Kevin Long said when asked if he thought it was home run. “He squared it up and that’s his normal reaction to a home run. It’s just the way things are right now. As bad as we feel, it’s probably not that bad right now. But it feels tough.”
“Yep, I thought it was [a home run],” captain Derek Jeter said. “That’s how it goes sometimes.”
How it went Sunday was three fly balls on first-pitch fastballs. He extended his homerless drought to 44 at-bats. Rodriguez’s final out of the third and first out of the sixth generated some boos from the crowd.
“Those are all fastballs,” Long said. “Those are good pitches to hit. They’re all strikes.”
“He’s getting the barrel on the ball,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s just missing pitches. I thought he had three good swings.”
Rodriguez hit the ball to right field his first two times, but made an adjustment and sent one that on days where the wind blows out, takes the ball over the fence. According to Long, those were three of the 14 balls the Yankees hit well.
“You’ve seen this for three days now,” Long said. “The wind is blowing in and if you have any loft to the ball it just wasn’t going out. When have you seen balls in this stadium hit like that not go out? Not too often.”
Not too often can also describe CC Sabathia’s seventh inning.
Sabathia began the day by taking a no-hitter into the fifth. He ended it by allowing solo home runs to Ryan Ludwick and Ryan Hanigan on misplaced fastballs and issuing three straight walks to Drew Stubbs, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.
“He still only gave up three runs,” Girardi said. “The bottom line is we didn’t score a lot of runs today and that seems to be what we’re struggling with right now.”
Like Rodriguez, Sabathia displayed his frustration on the field by raising his glove and yelling at plate umpire Tony Randazzo.
“It was just personal frustration, not being able to make a pitch,” Sabathia said. “Three walks in a row are unacceptable.”
Also unacceptable to the Yankees are six hits in their last 59 at-bats with runners in scoring position to go along with 35 strikeouts in 103 at-bats this weekend.
“There are just things right now that we can’t overcome,” Long said. “We can’t say ‘Poor us.’ If anything, let’s fight against the world right now; let’s go. That’s the message that I want these players to have and I think that’s the best way to go about it.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.