A-Rod homers in 11th inning, Yankees beat Twins
NEW YORK ” Alex Rodriguez’s first hit at the new Yankee Stadium was a doozy.
Rodriguez belted a game-ending, two-run homer in the 11th inning to give New York a 6-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Rodriguez hit a long drive off Craig Breslow (1-2) into the seats in left after Mark Teixeira led off with a walk. The jubilant slugger threw his arms up as he rounded first, then discarded his batting helmet as he made it to the plate and was mobbed by teammates.
“I was so tired,” Rodriguez said with specks of a postgame shaving cream pie still on his right ear. “I haven’t played a lot of baseball this year so I was exhausted. I was really just trying to put a good swing on the ball.”
It was just the second game at the Yankees’ $1.5 billion palace for A-Rod, who missed the first part of the season with a hip injury after admitting in spring training to using steroids when he played with the Texas Rangers.
Off to a slow start, the homer raised his batting average to .154 this season.
“For me, I gave you guys something to talk about and write about in the 11th inning and I didn’t have to open my mouth,” Rodriguez said as he addressed the media scrum after the game, “and that’s kind of the way I want things, you know. Stay out of my own way.”
Teixeira tied a career high with four hits and also had four RBIs for New York, which has won four straight. Alfredo Aceves (1-0) pitched a scoreless inning to earn the victory.
Justin Morneau hit his third homer in two games and Joe Mauer also connected for the second straight day for Minnesota, which absorbed its second consecutive difficult loss. The Yankees scored three times off All-Star closer Joe Nathan in the ninth inning of a 5-4 win Friday night.
“This is a tough place to play,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “You can’t make mistakes here.”
Minnesota pushed across two runs in the eighth to take a 4-3 lead. Morneau started the rally with a one-out drive off Phil Coke into the second deck in right. Brian Buscher added a run-scoring double for his second RBI.
Morneau went deep twice in the series opener and has four homers in his last four games to give him 12 for the season.
New York responded in the bottom half. Teixeira, showing signs of breaking out of his usual slow start, hit a tying RBI single off Nick Blackburn.
“Obviously I wanted to be more careful than that,” Blackburn said. “I was trying to hit the corner and I threw one that got over the plate. Every at-bat, I just gave him something too good.”
Teixeira’s three-run drive after Blackburn issued a pair of two-out walks in the third gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead. The switch hitter is 6 for 6 against the right-hander in his career.
“I was just getting good pitches to hit,” Teixeira said. “I got four good pitches to hit and I didn’t miss them.”
Mariano Rivera pitched two scoreless innings to help set up A-Rod’s second homer of the season. Minnesota put the first two batters on in the 10th but Rivera retired the next three to keep it tied.
It was Rivera’s longest outing since he pitched two innings against Kansas City on Aug. 16.
The four homers ” all no doubters ” brought the season total to 56 in the first 15 games at the Yankees’ swanky ballpark, quickly developing a reputation as a launching pad. The major league record for most homers in the first 15 games at a new park is 59 at Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium from 2001-03, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Puzzled by Joba Chamberlain’s lack of velocity in the first inning, the Yankees tried a new routine before his start against the Twins. The right-hander set aside part of his pregame bullpen session for a simulated inning against three batters.
The move seemed to work.
Chamberlain was around 93 mph as he breezed through the first. He allowed two runs and three hits in six innings, and is 2-1 with a 3.65 ERA in his last four starts.
“Coming out of the bullpen it felt a lot better,” he said.
Opponents were batting .481 in the first inning against Chamberlain before the game against the Twins. Each of the seven runs he gave up in his previous two starts came in the first.
“We got a good start from Joba,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It all starts with pitching.”
Notes: It was Rodriguez’s eighth career game-ending homer, his fifth with the Yankees and first since April 19, 2007, against Cleveland’s Joe Borowski. … Eric Hacker, recently designated for assignment by the Yankees, was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Romulo Sanchez in a swap of minor league right-handers.
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