Derek Jeter stood on first after his second-inning single and took off his shin guard. Just another hit to help the Yankees.
Sorry, Derek. The fans – and those giant side-by-side photos of you and Babe Ruth on the scoreboard with the message that you passed the baseball icon on the career hits list demanded acknowledgment. So he quickly tipped his helmet to the raucous crowd.
”Obviously Babe Ruth means a lot to baseball, especially to this organization, so anytime you get a chance to pass him in anything it’s special,” said Jeter, who only found out about the pending milestone a couple of days ago. ”It’s not like it was a goal of mine because I was unaware of it but it feels good once you accomplish it.”
Jeter was more effusive about Dustin Moseley, who filled in admirably for an injured A.J. Burnett and helped lead the New York Yankees to a 7-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night.
”He throws a lot of strikes, works quick. He’s going to make you hit his pitch and he’s not going to walk too many guys,” Jeter said. ”He challenges guys. He knows how to pitch. He hits his spots.”
Mark Teixeira hit his 25th homer, becoming the fourth player to hit at least 25 in each of his first eight big league seasons, and Lance Berkman won over Yankees fans with two doubles – and not hitting Alex Rodriguez again.
Rodriguez was back in the lineup a day after he was struck on his left leg by Berkman’s grounder during batting practice Saturday and missed the Yankees’ win. A-Rod was feeling so good Sunday, he stole his first base since May 8. It was his 300th career steal. Rodriguez left for a defensive replacement in the ninth after going 1 for 3 and manager Joe Girardi said he had some stiffness, as expected.
Girardi will wait until Monday morning to see if he can play in the finale of the four-game series between the AL East rivals.
Berkman felt good to see the third baseman back in the lineup.
”I didn’t want to be branded like some sort of Benedict Arnold to the organization,” Berkman kidded.
Jeter broke a tie with The Babe for 39th place on the career hits list with an RBI single in the second inning, his 2,874th hit. Jeter waved his helmet to an exuberant crowd and Rodriguez retrieved the milestone ball that was rolled toward the Yankees dugout as fans chanted ”Der-ek Je-ter!” Jeter doubled in two runs in the fifth to give New York a 7-1 lead and end Josh Beckett’s night with a Bronx cheer.
Beckett allowed seven runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings, his worst start of four since coming off the disabled list on July 23.
”I just thought I threw too many balls over the fat part of the plate,” he said. ”The ball was finding the barrels.”
The captain’s single and a run scored on an error by second baseman Bill Hall – one of two errors by Red Sox playing positions in place of injured stars – was all Moseley (2-1) needed. In the rotation because Andy Pettitte is on the disabled list with a strained groin, Moseley moved up a day when Burnett tweaked his back throwing on flat ground. In his third start, the right-hander worked the corners with a fastball that rarely exceeded 90 mph and gave up six hits and two runs, including a homer to Hall.
”If I fall behind in counts I don’t have overpowering stuff,” said Moseley, who left to a huge ovation with one out in the seventh. ”I have to throw strikes and expand the zone.”
In the second inning, Berkman sent a ball down the right-field line for his first extra-base hit with the Yankees in 23 at-bats. He scored when Hall made a diving stop on Brett Gardner’s groundball but his throw sailed past first base for an error.
”It feels good,” Berkman said. ”One of the toughest parts about coming over in the middle of the season is that you really haven’t contributed to the fact that the team is in first place and until you come up with some big hits you can’t really feel like you belong.”
Gardner scored on Jeter’s hit to make it 2-0.
Teixeira homered leading off the fifth against Beckett (3-2) and Berkman followed a walk and hit batter with a one-out RBI doubled down the third-base line to make it 4-1.
Cano was hit twice in the fifth, once by Beckett and again by catcher Kevin Cash, whose throw to third hit him in the helmet as he was diving back to the bag. Cano jumped up and raced home. Jeter added a two-run double to right-center.
NOTES: The three other players to hit at least 25 homers in first eight seasons are Eddie Mathews, Darryl Strawberry and Albert Pujols, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 4 and is 0 for 16 since coming off the DL. … A-Rod became 10th player with 1,500 runs, 2,500 hits, 200 HRs and 300 SB.