Sunday, August 11, 2013

NEW YORK -- Yankees fans are cheering for Alex Rodriguez once again -- for now. After getting Saturday's game off, A-Rod was back in the Yanks lineup and launched his first homerun of the year off Justin Verlander in the 2nd, one of his two hits on the day to help the Yanks defeat the Tigers, 5-4.

Coming up to the plate to face Verlander in the 2nd, A-Rod was greeted by the fans with a mixture of cheers and boos, that would quickly turn to cheers after A-Rod took a fastball and turned on it, sending over the wall in left field to tie the game, 1-1.

"I think the fans have been incredible. I said that yesterday," Rodriguez said. "You want to turn boos into cheers, you want to go out and make them proud. All you want is really an opportunity and a chance. I think New York always gives you that. I certainly feel that way walking around the city. The support has never been stronger in my 10 years. I'm very thankful."

The Yankees would go on to take the lead later in the inning after Lyle Overbay singled following the homerun by A-Rod, then Curtis Granderson singled after Alfonso Soriano struck out, moving Overbay to third with one away.

Eduardo Nunez came up with runners on the corners and lifted a fly-ball to center field that would be deep enough for Overbay to tag and score, giving the Yanks a 2-1.

After Robinson Cano ripped a ground-rule double left field with two away, A-Rod came up again with a chance to drive in another run. A-Rod took a 2-2 pitch from Verlander and lined it down the right field line, bringing home Cano for the Yanks third run.

"Our hope was that he is in midseason form when he gets here, but you're never sure when a guy comes off the DL, and he's been there for a long time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Today was a great day for [A-Rod]."

Soriano said after yesterday's game that the thought of getting his 2,000th with certainly on his mind, making it hard for him to focus during at-bats. Well, he can finally stop thinking about it. The first pitch he saw from Verlander in the 4th, Soriano blasted out to left field his career hit No. 2,000.

All this run support came to the benefit of Andy Pettitte, who didn't have his best stuff on this day. Detroit was all over Pettitte early, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Prince Fielder -- the eighth straight start in which Pettitte has given up a run in the first inning.

Although the Tigers were putting runners on base, they weren't able to do much against Pettitte, or any of the other Yankee pitchers in the game. Girardi decided to pulled the plug on Pettitte's day with one out in the 5th, taking him out after loading the bases. He gave up only one run on eight hits, walking three and striking out three in just 4 1/3.

"It's taxing on my body to throw that many pitches early in the game," said Pettitte. "I'm out there battling and grinding as hard as I can, but we've got to win ballgames right now."

Shawn Kelley took over for Pettitte, holding the Tigers to just one hit over an inning and a third. Boone Logan also tossed a scoreless inning and a third. David Robertson pitched the 8th, giving up a long homerun to Brian Pena, the first earned run given up Robertson since June 16th.

Perhaps the play of the game took place in the 8th inning. Austin Jackson was on first base with one out when Torii Hunter lifted a fly-ball that carried to deep center, and as Brett Gardner went back, he made the catch while slamming into the wall.

Shaken up by the play, he rolled the ball over the Soriano. Jackson thought the ball had been dropped, so he stayed at second, and when the ball made it's way back into the infield, Cano applied the tag,  completing the double play to end the inning.

Miguel Cabrera was on deck when the 8th inning ended, and was forced to face Mariano Rivera to open the 9th. Down two-strikes, Cabrera recreated Friday's magic, taking Rivera deep to pull the Tigers within one run, making it a 4-3 game.

A couple batters later, Victor Martinez tied the game with a no doubter into the second deck in right field, knotting the score at 4-4. It was the third consecutive blown save by Rivera, the first time in his Hall of Fame career that he's blown three straight saves.

"At least it's only the first time," Rivera said. "I don't pay attention to that stuff. I just try to go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven't done it. You have to continue battling and get better."

But with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, Gardner, who won the game for the Yankees on Friday with a walk-off single in the 10th, blastes a long, walk-off homerun to right field, giving the Yankees a 5-4 win.

"I think Mo has bailed us out quite a few times. Things like that happen," Gardner said. "That's the first time I've ever hit a walk-off homer. It might be the last. It didn't matter if it was me or someone else, we just needed to get a win today."

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