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Archive for Wednesday, April 2, 2008

N.Y. makes Girardi a winner

Final opener at Yankee Stadium a success

April 2, 2008

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Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2

Last opener at the old place, first win for Joe Girardi.

Just how the Babe would have wanted it.

Chien-Ming Wang shut down the Toronto Blue Jays for seven innings, making Girardi a winner in his rain-delayed debut as Yankees manager and sending New York to a record-setting 3-2 victory Tuesday night.

"It was a big night," Jason Giambi said. "This one is huge."

Back in 1923, Babe Ruth homered in front of 74,200 fans on the day Yankee Stadium opened. This time, it was Melky Cabrera's shot that tied it for New York. And the 84th opener at this storied ballpark ended like so many that came before - with a victory by the home team.

After wet weather postponed the festivities Monday, Wang and the Yankees beat Roy Halladay (0-1) to win their major league-best 11th consecutive home opener. That snapped a tie with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who won 10 in a row from 1945-54, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

With owner George Steinbrenner and his son, Hank, a Yankees general partner, watching from their suite above home plate, Cabrera also made two outstanding catches in center field.

Alex Rodriguez scored on Hideki Matsui's grounder in the seventh, breaking a 2-all tie.

"It was a good, clean game. The difference was their defense," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Joba Chamberlain struck out two in a hitless eighth to the delight of his polio-stricken father, Harlan, who attended the game and cheered from his motorized scooter.

Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth for the save and handed Girardi the souvenir ball from the final out as the sellout crowd of 55,112 roared.

"He just congratulated me and he said that's No. 1 and let's get a lot more," Girardi said. "It's a neat moment for me."

Girardi took over this season from his popular mentor, Joe Torre, who guided the Yankees to playoff appearances in all 12 years at the helm.

"I know he really wanted to win this game," Derek Jeter said. "I'm happy for him."

New York improved to 58-26 in Yankee Stadium openers. The club has won 16 of its past 17, and 22 of 25.

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