June 17, 2015

Closing in on 3,000 hits, Alex Rodriguez is taking the pursuit of his latest milestone in stride.

Three hits shy of reaching the plateau, the oft-maligned Rodriguez tries to help the Yankees sweep their two-game home set against the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

After not starting either of the two losses for New York (35-30) at Miami this week, Rodriguez was back in his DH role and went 2 for 2 with a RBI and two walks during Wednesday's 2-1 victory. Though he's 6 for 29 in his last nine contests, Rodriguez has a decent chance to become the 29th player to reach 3,000 as early as Thursday.

"It's always on your mind a little bit," said Rodriguez, who turns 40 next month.

"(Three-thousand hits) means I'm getting old," he told MLB's official website. "You play long enough and some of these stats add up after a while."

With seven games left on this homestand, Rodriguez likely will make history in front of a home crowd that's been mostly supportive after he sat out all of last season on a performance-enhancing drug suspension.

"I think the fans have responded at home very well," manager Joe Girardi said.

Rodriguez, who overtook Willie Mays for fourth on the all-time home run list last month and sits at 666, doesn't expect another milestone to improve his image.

"I can't change anybody's mind," he said. "All I can do right now is really be grateful for the opportunity the Yankees and Major League Baseball and my team has given me."

New York starters have a 1.99 ERA during the club's 8-1 stretch at Yankee Stadium, where CC Sabathia (3-7, 5.38 ERA) earned his first home victory since September 2013 on June 7. However, the left-hander needs a better effort after yielding a pair of two-run homers in five innings while not getting a decision in Saturday's 9-4 loss at Baltimore.

It was the third time in his last five outings that he failed to complete six innings.

"It's frustrating for me," Sabathia said. "I usually pitch deep into the games, but it's just a different time. I'm out there battling and trying to go as long as I can."

Looking to avoid matching a season high with their fifth consecutive road defeat, the Marlins (29-38) hope Mat Latos (2-4, 5.44) can build on his solid return to the rotation. Fresh off a stint on the disabled list to deal with knee inflammation, Latos allowed a run and struck out 11 in seven innings of Saturday's 4-1 victory over Colorado.

"It's good to see him at 100 percent because I think you're truly seeing now the Mat Latos the Marlins traded for and it's a huge boost for us," manager Dan Jennings said of the right-hander's first outing since May 21.

Latos yielded 11 runs and 15 hits in 8 1-3 innings over his two starts prior to being placed on the DL.

"It feels good to have two legs under me that's for sure," he said.

Giancarlo Stanton entered Tuesday batting .404 with nine homers and 18 RBIs in his previous 14 games but went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his Yankee Stadium debut.

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