On the long list of maddening things about the Yankees in this miserable month of May, Alex Rodriguez's slump was at the very top.
There aren't many players who have the hitting ability to carry a team that's otherwise scuffling, but A-Rod is one of them. The fact that he was doing the exact opposite by creating a black hole in the middle of the lineup made the struggles of those around him seem even bigger as a result.
What's more, every time he struck out with runners on or hit a meek pop-up in the infield it became a question if some combination of time, injury or attrition had accelerated the decline phase of his career to an uncomfortable pace.
No one expects him to be the best player in baseball over the course of 162 games anymore, but it is hard to imagine the Yankees winning big if he isn't a reasonable facsimilie for a healthy portion of the season.
Those worries can be put to rest for at least one day. Rodriguez hit a pair of home runs off of James Shields on Tuesday night in Tampa to provide the Yanks with the foundation for a much needed 6-2 victory over the Rays.
It was exactly the kind of night that A-Rod, the Yankees and Yankees fans needed to feel the weight of the world lift off their shoulders. As long as he's still capable of taking over games with his bat, there's reason to believe that things are about to get better.
He had help, naturally. David Robertson was summoned into another bases loaded jam in the sixth and did his thing once again with a pair of strikeouts to strand all of the baserunners.
We also learned that Jorge Posada simply needed three days off and time spent in the middle of a raging crossfire to get his bat going. He singled and doubled to jack his average all the way up to .179 on the season.
The win snaps their six game losing streak, the longest of the Joe Girardi era, and quiets some of the panic that was settling in around a team that has looked as lost as Amelia Earhart in recent weeks.
Not everything was perfect -- rumors of Derek Jeter's return to life were greatly exaggerated, Girardi remains a manager committed to making baffling decisions and the Rafael Soriano signing feels like the relief version of the Carl Pavano signing -- but it was enough for a night of smiles.
Six straight losses mean you can't be greedy so we'll take that and look forward to keeping the ball rolling in Baltimore.