New York In the New York Yankees' modern-day Murderers' Row, one player always stands out: Derek Jeter.
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 RBIs 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.
"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 62â3 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.