Baltimore at New York

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Baltimore140200000791
N.Y. Yankees «2001000341071

A-Rod's memorable slam overshadows Igawa's forgettable debut

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez turned Kei Igawa's forgettable debut into a day he'll long remember.

Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs and the Yankees trailing by a run. Just the type of pressure situation Rodriguez failed at during the last two Octobers. Nearly the same circumstances as two nights earlier, when he popped out and tossed his bat to the ground in disgust.

"There's no way out," manager Joe Torre said. "There it is: You either produce, or you're going to read about yourself again."

This time was different. This time, A-Rod wound up getting shoved back onto the field by Derek Jeter for a curtain call.

Down to his last strike, Rodriguez came through in the most dramatic way, sending a soaring drive into the center-field bleachers, Yankee Stadium's famed black seats. His grand slam off Chris Ray, A-Rod's second home run Saturday, gave the Yankees a memorable 10-7 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"It felt awesome," Rodriguez said in the clubhouse, still smiling, the ball perched on a shelf in his locker. "I was so excited, I felt like a fool running around the bases, like it was Little League."

New York fell behind by five runs early, and Igawa left after five mediocre innings with a 7-3 deficit. Dice-K he wasn't.

Jason Giambi hit a three-run homer in the eighth off Danys Baez to get the Yankees close. But Ray (0-1) got the first two outs of the ninth.

"Somehow, I knew it was going to come to down to me. Even with two outs and nobody on," Rodriguez said. "Somehow or another, it always ends up with me somewhere."

Robinson Cano singled, Derek Jeter walked and Bobby Abreu was hit on a knee by a pitch.

Rodriguez then connected on a 1-2 fastball. As soon as he hit it, he knew it was gone, and what remained of a crowd announced at 50,510 on a 39-degree afternoon went wild.

On Thursday, he popped out with two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to Tampa Bay.

"It's something about New York, that I love it here," Rodriguez said. "There's just energy. It's crazy, one way or another. Every night is always exciting."

A-Rod arrived at spring training, admitted after several years of denials that he and Jeter no longer were best buddies and has seemed more relaxed than during his first three seasons with the Yankees. He can't erase going 4-for-41 (.098) without an RBI in his last 12 playoff games dating to 2004 and was dropped to eighth in the batting order in last year's final game, but carrying New York to big regular-season wins would be a start to putting past failures behind. He was 3-for-4 with six RBI Saturday, hitting a two-run homer and doubling, and is batting .389 with three homers and nine RBI.

Fans wanted a curtain call, and Jeter took the initiative to make sure A-Rod gave them one.

"We needed that," Jeter said. "We didn't want to waste another game."

Rodriguez has 14 slams and three of them ended games, tying the major league mark shared by Vern Stephens (1946, 1949, 1950) and Cy Williams (1924 and twice in 1926).

"He's a big key to this team," said Giambi, who last year criticized Rodriguez for not getting enough big hits. "We are definitely rooting for him. There is not a situation where we want him to do bad. We want him to do great."

Mariano Rivera (1-0) pitched a one-hit ninth, completing four shutout innings for New York's bullpen. Yankees starters have allowed 22 runs -- 19 earned -- and 28 hits in 17 1-3 innings for a 9.87 ERA.

Igawa was the fourth flop in a row for the rotations. Two days after Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched seven dominating innings to win his debut for the Boston Red Sox, Igawa started hearing boos after his 12th batter. He failed to string together a 1-2-3 inning and gave up seven runs, eight hits, three walks, a hit batter and two home runs, a performance that left him with a 12.60 ERA.

"Please don't compare me to Matsuzaka," he said through a translator, "but as a Japanese, I have to do my job."

His fastball, clocked from 89-91 mph, was the only pitch he consistently threw for a strike. Nick Markakis hit an opposite-field homer into the left-field seats in the first. Melvin Mora, who tied a career high with five RBI, had a three-run double in the second after the 26-year-old left-hander walked Brian Roberts with the bases loaded.

When Igawa bobbled Markakis' nubber in front on the mound for an error, fans started booing, The jeers were louder when Mora added a two-run homer in the fourth for a 7-2 lead.

"He threw funky, but he had a pretty good fastball," Mora said. "Maybe today was not one of his better days."

Baltimore, which had been hoping for its first 2-0 start at Yankee Stadium since 1997, was understandably depressed. Ray said he left the fastball to A-Rod up.

"He just looked like he was trying to overthrow to me," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He was rushing his delivery."

New York evened its record at 2-2 and avoided what would have been a three-game losing streak, an unacceptable skid at any time of the season. Having heard the boos, A-Rod embraced the cheers.

"I'm doing the best I can to enjoy the game," he said. "I'm in a good place."

Notes

  • Hideki Matsui strained his left hamstring running out a second-inning grounder and left in the fourth. Torre said he probably wouldn't play until Friday in Oakland. Johnny Damon still recovering from a strained right calf, pinch hit in the eighth and struck out, then went to center.
  • Steve Trachsel, making his debut with the Orioles after six seasons with the New York Mets, gave up four hits in 6 2/3 innings, allowing his only runs on A-Rod's first homer and Jorge Posada's RBI single in the fourth.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Alex Rodriguez is hero for a day after hitting a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning.  (AP)
Alex Rodriguez is hero for a day after hitting a grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
New York

A. Rodriguez
AB 4
R 4
H 3
HR 2
RBI 6
Baltimore

M. Mora
AB 5
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 5
 

Related Video

Baltimore Orioles
Brian Roberts, 2B3201201 .176
Melvin Mora, 3B5125010 .292
Nick Markakis, RF5121010 .250
Miguel Tejada, SS5000013 .200
Aubrey Huff, DH4110101 .350
Kevin Millar, LF4110001 .071
    Freddie Bynum, LF1000011 .000
Corey Patterson, CF2110100 .200
Chris Gomez, 1B4010004 .250
Alberto Castillo, C4010035 .167
Totals3779747  
Batting
2B - Melvin Mora (2, Igawa)
HR - Melvin Mora (2, Igawa), Nick Markakis (1, Igawa)
RBI - Brian Roberts (1), Melvin Mora 5 (7), Nick Markakis (3)
2-OUT RBI - Brian Roberts (1), Melvin Mora 3 (4), Nick Markakis (1)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Miguel Tejada (3, Throwing)
Baltimore Orioles
Steve Trachsel 6.2433231 4.05
John Parrish 0.1000000 0.00
Danys Baez 0.1133201 11.57
Jamie Walker (H,2) 0.2000010 0.00
Chris Ray (BS,1; L,0-1) 0.2244111 13.50
HBP - Abreu (by Chris Ray)
Pitches-Strikes - Steve Trachsel 92-53, John Parrish 5-4, Danys Baez 15-5, Jamie Walker 9-6, Chris Ray 21-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Steve Trachsel 9-9, John Parrish 1-0, Jamie Walker 1-0
Batters Faced - Steve Trachsel 27, John Parrish 1, Danys Baez 4, Jamie Walker 2, Chris Ray 6
New York Yankees
Robinson Cano, 2B5110011 .389
Derek Jeter, SS4100100 .278
Bobby Abreu, RF2300211 .267
Alex Rodriguez, 3B4436100 .389
Jason Giambi, DH3113100 .188
Hideki Matsui, LF1000000 .250
   a- Miguel Cairo, PH-LF2000002 .000
   b- Johnny Damon, PH-CF1000010 .333
Jorge Posada, C4011010 .438
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B4000002 .333
Melky Cabrera, CF-LF4010010 .083
Totals341071055  
a-popped out for Matsui in the 4th
b-struck out for Cairo in the 8th
Batting
2B - Alex Rodriguez (3, Trachsel)
HR - Alex Rodriguez 2 (3, Trachsel, Ray), Jason Giambi (1, Baez)
RBI - Alex Rodriguez 6 (9), Jason Giambi 3 (6), Jorge Posada (3)
2-OUT RBI - Alex Rodriguez 6 (9), Jorge Posada (2)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Kei Igawa (1, Misplayed grounder)
New York Yankees
Kei Igawa 5877322 12.60
Brian Bruney 1000030 0.00
Mike Myers 1000100 0.00
Luis Vizcaino 1000010 3.00
Mariano Rivera (W,1-0) 1100010 0.00
HBP - Patterson (by Kei Igawa)
Pitches-Strikes - Kei Igawa 97-53, Brian Bruney 16-10, Mike Myers 22-12, Luis Vizcaino 13-8, Mariano Rivera 16-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kei Igawa 4-10, Mike Myers 3-0
Batters Faced - Kei Igawa 28, Brian Bruney 3, Mike Myers 4, Luis Vizcaino 3, Mariano Rivera 4
Game Information
Attendance - 50510
Game Time - 3:13
Temperature - 39
Umpires - Home - Ed Montague, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Bill Miller, Third Base - Marvin Hudson