Fans stood before he settled into the batter's box, players edged to the top of the dugout steps and camera strobes sparkled with each swing. And when he lined a two-strike pitch to center field for his 10th RBI of the game in the sixth inning, the crowd let out a huge roar.
Standing on first base and basking in the adulation of the Yankees' fans, Rodriguez didn't want this moment — in the making for more than a year — to stop.
"Right after I hit that last base hit up the middle, it felt like I was in the clouds — you just don't want it to end," Rodriguez said.
A-Rod hit three homers in his first three at-bats and became only the 11th major league player with 10 or more RBIs in a game, leading the Yankees over the Los Angeles Angels 12-4 on Tuesday night.
The marquee matchup might have been across town at Shea Stadium, where the Mets' Pedro Martinez (search) lost to Atlanta's John Smoltz, but it was A-Rod who put on the biggest show in New York.
Each of his home runs came with two outs against Bartolo Colon (3-2) in the first four innings and drew rousing ovations from the Yankees fans, who have been reluctant to embrace the $252 million star since he was acquired before the 2004 season.
"Definitely tonight was one of those magical nights," Rodriguez said. "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."
He finished one RBI shy of the AL record of 11 set by the Yankees' Tony Lazzeri (search) in 1936. The major league record of 12 is shared by the St. Louis Cardinals' Jim Bottomley (1924) and Mark Whiten (1993). Rodriguez was the first to get 10 RBIs at Yankee Stadium.
Nomar Garciaparra was the last player with 10 RBIs in a game, accomplishing the feat for Boston against Seattle on May 10, 1999.
Rodriguez hit the 11th grand slam of his career in the fourth inning after hitting a three-run shot in the first and a two-run homer in the third, all two-out drives. Coming in, he had been 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position and two outs.
"I never really find Bartolo Colon very hittable," said Rodriguez, who's tied with Boston's Manny Ramirez and Baltimore's Miguel Tejada for the major league lead with 25 RBIs.
His homer in the first, which followed two walks, landed over the 399-foot marker in left-center. When his long fly in the third landed in the Angels' bullpen in left field, the crowd of 36,328 stood and cheered until Rodriguez appeared out of the dugout one pitch into the next at-bat.
The fans stood throughout his at-bat in the fourth as he worked the count full against Colon. New York manager Joe Torre said "everybody in the dugout became a fan," hoping for that third homer.
Rodriguez fouled off a pitch before hitting a drive off the front of the center-field bleachers, just beyond the 408-foot sign.
"It was a fun matchup ... bases loaded, the fans going crazy," Rodriguez said.
While Rodriguez walked to the plate in the eighth inning for his final at-bat, Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra," played dramatically over the public address system. Rodriguez hit a hard liner to center and was again greeted with loud applause from the fans, who then began a quick run for the exits with the Yankees leading 12-3. Rodriguez was given the ninth inning off.
Rodriguez's performance overshadowed Carl Pavano's first win in pinstripes. He pitched effectively for seven innings, often falling behind in the count but only getting into real trouble against a potent Angels lineup in the third when he walked two and gave up an RBI single to Vladimir Guerrero and run-scoring grounder to Garret Anderson.
Pavano (2-2), whose previous victory was at Toronto last week, gave up three runs and seven hits.
"When there's runs on the board or not, I've got to make my pitches and stick to my plan," said Pavano, who was disappointed by two walks he gave up in the third.
Colon had allowed just one run in 15 innings over two starts. Each of Rodriguez's home runs followed bouts of wildness; Colon walked five in 3 2-3 innings and gave up 10 runs — five earned. Giving up the longball has always been a problem for Colon, but he had allowed just one in 27 2-3 innings through his first four starts.
"I made mistakes," Colon said. "As good a hitter as he is, he took advantage of those mistakes. He was not chasing. He was sitting on my fastball very well."
Bernie Williams had an RBI grounder on one of Chone Figgins' two errors in the fourth and Jorge Posada added an RBI groundout for New York.
Notes:@ Rodriguez has 388 homers, putting him in 46th place on the career list. ... After stealing two bases Tuesday, the Angels have 11 stolen bases in last five games. ... Rodriguez hit two home runs and had six RBIs on April 18.