Derek Jeter may be the face of the Yankees. Almost every other player is more popular, but the fact remains that Alex Rodriguez is the engine that drives the team.

Yesterday he did it again, down 4-2 in the ninth, the Yankees won 5-4, thanks in a large part to A-Rod’s two-run, game tying, homer. It was his 7th home run since he returned to action and despite his .204 batting average, he has had a remarkable impact. Since his return on May 8th the Yankees are 12-3. Once he rejoined the team, Alex has done what he needed to do in 2009: he has minimized the off-field distractions and let his play do the talking.

Detractors will say that none of it matters until the playoffs and in some ways they are right. If the Yankees make the playoffs this year and Alex flames out like he has in the past, the regular season won’t matter. But, that is also a confirmation of the basic truth about the Yankees. They need Alex to win and they won’t get far without him.