Rodriguez taking a day off from home run chase

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Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez is just one home run away from 600 for his career.  Actually, he’s been one home run away from 600 for 37 at-bats now.  And he’s unlikely to reach the milestone Sunday.

According to Erik Boland of Newsday, A-Rod is not in the Yankees’ lineup this afternoon against Rays right-hander James Shields despite a tight race at the top of the American League East standings. 

Perhaps manager Joe Girardi has noticed that his third baseman is pressing.  Rodriguez told the Newark Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig on Saturday that it might take him a while to get that elusive home run, so he’s clearly been bothered by the pressure.

“There’s no question, the way I’m swinging it, it’s probably going to take awhile,” A-Rod said with a laugh. “Everybody get comfortable.”

Rodriguez is 8-for-37 since hitting home run No. 599 on July 22 and his batting average has dropped five points.  He has averaged a home run per every 14.5 at-bats for his career and has averaged a long-ball every 23.4 at-bats this season.  If this power drought lasts any longer, the coverage could get very annoying.

Justin Verlander earns 200th career win

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Astros starter Justin Verlander wasn’t his usual dominant self on Sunday against the Athletics, but he was good enough to get the win. In doing so, he earned the 200th win of his career, becoming the 117th member of the 200-win club.

Verlander went 5 1/3 innings, yielding four runs (all earned) on seven hits and a walk with six strikeouts. On the season, Verlander is now 12-8 with a 2.65 ERA and a 223/29 K/BB ratio in 169 2/3 innings. Sunday’s win helped the Astros stave off the surging A’s. The Astros now have a one-game lead in the AL West.

Only two active pitchers have more wins than Verlander: Bartolo Colon (247) and CC Sabathia (244). Zack Greinke will likely be the next member of the 200-win club as he currently has 184 to his name.