The Yankees captain tied the postseason record for hits, going
5-for-5 with two doubles and a home run to spark New York in its
postseason opener, an 8-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on
"He was great," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. "It
was good because it was a tough game."
Bobby Abreu had a two-run double and Jason Giambi hit a two-run
homer in the third as New York's big boppers staked Chien-Ming Wang
to a 5-0 lead. The five-run burst started, however, with something
small -- Johnny Damon's slow roller for a single. Jeter followed
with a double that put Nate Robertson in big trouble six outs into
his postseason debut.
"When the team has a night like this, you're able to relax a
little bit," Jeter said. "But it's a short series. You can't
After the Tigers crawled within two runs, Abreu added a two-run
single in the sixth and Jeter hit his 17th postseason home run, an
eight-inning drive off Jamie Walker that upped his postseason
career average to .315.
Six of New York's RBI came from Abreu and Giambi, surprising
given that Nate Robertson held lefties to a .181 average during the
regular season, the best among AL pitchers. Giambi was on base four
times, also getting hit by pitches twice and walking.
"We can throw up runs as fast as anyone," said Damon, who had
two of New York's 14 hits.
New York's lineup, now that everyone's healthy, poses a mighty
challenge for opposing pitchers. All nine starters are current or
former All-Stars. Robinson Cano became the first player to ever
start a postseason game batting ninth after finishing among the top
three in his league in batting, according to the Elias Sports
"We just don't have that kind of firepower," Tigers manager
Jim Leyland said.
Alex Rodriguez, the reigning AL MVP, was dropped to sixth in the
order, his lowest slot since Seattle batted him eighth on May 7,
1996, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He was a quiet 1-for-4
with two lineouts and a strikeout, extending his streak of
postseason games without an RBI to nine and his playoff slump to
5-for-36 (.139) over his last 10 postseason games.
"That's not a big deal. The important thing is we won the
game," Rodriguez said.
Once again, he'll be compared with Jeter.
"I'm not disappointed," Steinbrenner said. "A-Rod is doing
Wang didn't have his best sinker but got the win by allowing
three runs in 6 2/3 innings, wiggling out of trouble in the second
and third. Of the eight hits off him, five were doubles and one was
a home run, a drive by Craig Monroe that started Detroit's
"He was a little Jeykll and Hyde and from what we've seen in
the past," Leyland said.
Curtis Granderson added a solo homer in the seventh off Mike
Myers, who faced just one batter. Scott Proctor got Magglio Ordonez
to pop out with runners at the corners, Kyle Farnsworth threw six
straight balls starting the eighth but got out of it without a hit,
and Mariano Rivera finished.
Rivera was sidelined for much of September by a strained arm
muscle and Yankees manager Joe Torre held to his promise of not
using Rivera before the ninth.
"I know he was kind of anxious," Rivera said. "Knowing him,
definitely kind of anxious."
Robertson gave up seven runs in 5 2/3 innings and took the loss.
"I didn't feel like I threw terrible, but my line doesn't look
good at all," he said. "They're dangerous."
New York won its third straight postseason series opener. Mike
Mussina (15-7) tries to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the
best-of-five series when he starts on Wednesday night against
Justin Verlander (17-9).
While the Yankees are in the postseason for the 12th straight
year, Detroit played its first playoff game since the 1987 AL
Championship Series. It marked the return to the postseason of
Leyland, who guided Florida to the 1997 World Series title and in
his first season in Detroit turned around a Tigers team that had
endured 12 consecutive losing seasons.
Before the usual gaggle of celebrities (Patrick Ewing),
politicians (Mayor Michael Bloomberg) and billionaires (Donald
Trump), Damon's little hit started off the third.
In a 3-for-30 slide at the end of the season, Damon hit a
bouncer between the mound and first. Robertson came off the mound
quickly but failed to turn his glove for a backhand, and it rolled
by for a single.
Jeter fell behind 0-2, worked the count full and, with Damon
running, lined the ball to left-center for a double. Abreu followed
with a double to right-center for a 2-0 lead, extending his arm in
excitement after he connected for his first postseason RBI.
"I always waited for this opportunity, and it happened," said
Abreu, whose previous postseason experience was three at-bats for
Houston in 1997.
After Leyland went out to the mound to speak with Robertson,
Gary Sheffield hit an RBI single and Giambi muscled a 1-2 pitch
over the right-field wall for his seventh postseason homer.
Abreu added a two-run single in the sixth, pulling the ball
between first and second, just past a diving Polanco at second.
"That's why they've got the payroll they've got," Robertson
said. "They bring players in there to do what they did tonight.
They fight off tough pitches and even do some damage to pitches
that other guys can't do damage on."
With 48 postseason RBI, Jeter tied
Reggie Jackson and Manny Ramirez for third, trailing only Bernie
Williams (80) and David Justice (63) ... Randy Johnson threw in the outfield before Tuesday's game, and Torre indicated that the Yankee left-hander would be ready Friday to start Game 3 in Detroit. Johnson, who has been bothered by lower back stiffness, will throw a bullpen session Wednesday in preparation. Jaret Wright is designated as an emergency reliever for the game.