Final

Playoff Series: Game 1 of 4

Detroit won 3-1

Game 1: Tuesday, October 3
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Game 2: Wednesday, October 4
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Game 2: Thursday, October 5
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Game 3: Friday, October 6
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Game 4: Saturday, October 7
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8:19 PM ET, October 3, 2006

Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

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DET 000030100 4 12 1
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W: C. Wang (1-0)

L: N. Robertson (0-1)

Jeter (5-5), Abreu (4 RBI) lift Yankees past Tigers

NEW YORK (AP) -- In the New York Yankees' modern-day Murderers' Row, one player always stands out: Derek Jeter.

Game 1 Breakdown
Unsung Hero
Bobby Abreu. On a typical night, he would have been the star of the game. But Derek Jeter's 5-for-5 game overshadowed Abreu's playoff debut in which he drove in a team-high four runs.

Goat
Ivan Rodriguez. It would be easy to pick on the losing pitcher, Nate Robertson, but Pudge went 0-for-4, striking out twice with runners in scoring position.

Turning Point
The bottom of the third inning. That's when the Yankees broke out to a 5-0 lead against Robertson, starting with Johnny Damon's infield single and ending with Jason Giambi's two-run homer to right field.

Law's Take
"It was a little uglier than expected for the Yanks, but they won the game and in the process defeated Detroit's best starting pitching hope, lefty Nate Robertson, who is much more effective against lefties than is Kenny Rogers because of his slider." More from Keith Law Insider

On Deck
Game 2 is Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. Justin Verlander (17-9, 3.63 ERA) should be well-rested; he hasn't started since Sept. 24. And the Tigers need the rookie at his best to avoid an 0-2 hole. The Yankees hand the ball to Mike Mussina, a veteran of 20 postseason starts.

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 Tuesday night.

"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 relax."

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 Bureau.

"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.

Five-Star Performances
The only 5-hit games in Major League Baseball postseason history:
Player Club AB R H RBI
2006 ALDS, Game 1
Derek Jeter NYY 5 3 5 1
2004 ALDS, Game 3
Hideki Matsui NYY 6 5 5 5
1999 ALDS, Game 4
Mike Stanley Bos. 6 3 5 1
1995 NLDS, Game 1
Marquis Grissom Atl. 5 2 5 1
1982 World Series, Game 1
Paul Molitor Mil. 6 1 5 2
1969 ALCS, Game 3
Paul Blair Balt. 6 1 5 2

"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 his part."

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 three-run fifth.

"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.

Detroit closed to 5-3 in the fifth on Monroe's homer and two-out RBI doubles by Placido Polanco and Sean Casey.

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."

Game notes


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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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