|N.Y. Yankees «||2||1||0||0||4||0||0||0||3||10||13||0|
"C'mon! Six homers in seven games? He's supposed to do that," Mussina said. "Just ask you guys."
It might have taken more than three years, but there are signs that Rodriguez is finally fitting in with the Yankees.
Rodriguez homered in his fourth straight game to back a solid performance by Andy Pettitte, then laughed and joked playfully with several teammates after the game.
"Alex has been swinging the bat as well as I've ever seen him," Jeter said. "I asked him if there was anything wrong with him when he flew out."
Rodriguez, who struggled to ingratiate himself in the Yankees' clubhouse and with their demanding fans during his first three seasons in New York, hit his major league-leading sixth homer in the first inning.
Johnny Damon added a three-run shot off Boof Bonser (0-1) in a four-run fifth, and Pettitte (1-0) gave up four hits in six shutout innings for his 150th victory with the Yankees, and his first since 2003.
The Twins have scored a total of six runs in their last four games, though two of those were played in frigid conditions during a weekend series at the Chicago White Sox.
Rodriguez has been making hitting look easy this season.
"He just looks very comfortable," manager Joe Torre said before the game. "He's not up there overplaying his hand. He's up there daring people to get him out."
In the first inning, A-Rod reached down low in the zone and effortlessly lofted a 3-2 changeup into the left-field stands to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
"I'm seeing the ball pretty well," he said. "Hopefully, things continue."
Rodriguez became the ninth major leaguer, and first Yankee, to hit six homers in his first seven games of the season. Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt, who hit seven homers in the first seven games of the 1976 season, is the only player to hit more in that span.
"I love Mike," Rodriguez said. "He's one of my favorite players of all time. It's always an honor."
Skeptics will point out that all this production is coming during the regular season. But the two-time AL MVP went 1-for-14 in the playoffs last year, when he was dropped to eighth in the batting order for the final game, and is 4-for-41 (.098) without an RBI in his last 12 playoff games dating to 2004.
During his first tour with the Yankees, Pettitte became synonymous with postseason success. He helped them to four World Series titles and six AL pennants, and his 14 postseason victories are second only to Atlanta's John Smoltz (15).
The Yankees gave Pettitte a $16 million, one-year contract with a $16 million player option in hopes that he can shore up a shaky rotation.
"All is well ... tonight," Pettitte quipped.
It was a familiar sight for manager Ron Gardenhire, whose Twins haven't been able to get the bats going since scoring 17 runs in a three-game sweep of Baltimore to open the season.
Now he can add starting pitching to his list of concerns.
"Obviously, you don't want to give up home runs, but Boof's fine," Gardenhire said during a sometimes-testy postgame interview. "Boof just got a couple balls up tonight and they hit them out."
After Twins starters looked sharp in the first four games of the season, Sidney Ponson was pounded in an 8-2 loss to New York on Monday night, and Bonser was knocked around on Tuesday. Bonser gave up seven runs -- six earned -- and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.
"I don't know what happened there. I went out for the fifth and it seemed like the wheels came off," Bonser said. "I threw good pitches and they just hit them."
|A-Rod leaps into Mike Schmidt territory with his sixth home run in just his seventh game. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|New York Yankees|
|Johnny Damon, CF||5||2||1||3||0||1||2||.429|
|Derek Jeter, SS||5||3||2||0||0||1||0||.355|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||5||1||1||1||0||0||2||.321|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B||3||1||1||2||2||1||0||.357|
|Jason Giambi, DH||3||0||1||1||1||0||0||.192|
|Kevin Thompson, PR-DH-CF||1||0||1||2||0||0||0||1.000|
|Jorge Posada, C||5||0||1||0||0||1||3||.333|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||5||1||2||0||0||3||4||.313|
|Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B||3||1||0||0||1||0||4||.188|
|Melky Cabrera, LF||4||1||3||1||0||0||0||.200|
|2B - Kevin Thompson (1, Reyes), Robinson Cano (2, Bonser)|
|HR - Johnny Damon (1, Bonser), Alex Rodriguez (6, Bonser)|
|RBI - Johnny Damon 3 (3), Bobby Abreu (7), Alex Rodriguez 2 (15), Jason Giambi (7), Kevin Thompson 2 (2), Melky Cabrera (2)|
|2-OUT RBI - Alex Rodriguez 2 (13), Melky Cabrera (1)|
|SB - Derek Jeter (1, 2nd base off Bonser/Mauer)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Cano-Jeter-Mientkiewicz|
|New York Yankees|
|Andy Pettitte (W,1-0)||6||4||0||0||1||3||0||1.64|
|Pitches-Strikes - Andy Pettitte 96-60, Scott Proctor 17-6, Luis Vizcaino 19-12, Mariano Rivera 10-6|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Andy Pettitte 12-2, Mariano Rivera 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Andy Pettitte 22, Scott Proctor 5, Luis Vizcaino 4, Mariano Rivera 3|
|Luis Castillo, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.310|
|Nick Punto, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||1||0||.148|
|Joe Mauer, C||3||0||1||0||1||0||0||.346|
|Chris Heintz, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Michael Cuddyer, RF||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.360|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||3||1||0||0||1||0||2||.250|
|Torii Hunter, CF||2||0||0||0||1||1||1||.208|
|a- Jason Tyner, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.182|
|Josh Rabe, LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.000|
|b- Luis Rodriguez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Mike Redmond, DH||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.111|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.050|
|c- Jason Kubel, PH||1||0||1||1||0||0||0||.273|
|Alexi Casilla, PR-SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-grounded out for Hunter in the 9th|
|b-flied out for Rabe in the 9th|
|c-singled for Bartlett in the 7th|
|2B - Michael Cuddyer (3, Pettitte)|
|RBI - Jason Kubel (3)|
|2-OUT RBI - Jason Kubel (1)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Castillo-Bartlett-Morneau, Morneau-Bartlett-Crain|
|E - Jason Bartlett (4, Misplayed grounder)|
|Boof Bonser (L,0-1)||4.1||6||7||6||2||1||2||6.97|
|IBB - Rodriguez by Boof Bonser|
|Pitches-Strikes - Boof Bonser 75-41, Jesse Crain 14-10, Pat Neshek 12-9, Juan Rincon 22-13, Dennys Reyes 29-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Boof Bonser 7-6, Jesse Crain 3-0, Juan Rincon 1-0, Dennys Reyes 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Boof Bonser 22, Jesse Crain 5, Pat Neshek 3, Juan Rincon 5, Dennys Reyes 8|
|Attendance - 24552|
|Game Time - 2:48|
|Temperature - 70|
|Umpires - Home - Tony Randazzo, First Base - Charlie Reliford, Second Base - Larry Vanover, Third Base - Greg Gibson|