Alex Rodriguez made the biggest play of the night with a simple wave of his hand.
Rodriguez homered and drove in two runs, but didn’t have to lift his bat with one out in the ninth when Derek Jeter scored on a passed ball as the New York Yankees rallied to hand the Tigers their fifth straight loss, 7-6 on Friday, hours after Detroit left fielder Delmon Young was arraigned on a hate crime harassment charge.
A-Rod frantically waved for Jeter to break from third after the ball glanced off catcher Alex Avila’s glove.
”I’m at third. When Aviles turns around, I couldn’t see it,” Jeter said. ”You really can’t see where the ball is. I saw Alex.”
Jeter drew a one-out walk from Brayan Villarreal (0-1) and went to third when Villarreal threw a wild pitch on ball four to Curtis Granderson. With Rodriguez guiding him home, Jeter barely beat Avila’s throw to Villarreal covering the plate.
”The voice is not going to be heard,” Rodriguez said about why he didn’t shout when Jeter didn’t budge after the first two waves.
Russell Martin hit a two-run homer and the Yankees bullpen held steady when Ivan Nova turned in the latest shaky performance by a New York starter.
Mariano Rivera (1-1), the fourth Yankees reliever, worked a perfect ninth for the win. The bullpen pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings.
The Tigers came to New York having lost six of seven at home and a day after they cut popular infielder Brandon Inge, Detroit’s longest-tenured player. The arrest of Young early Friday eclipsed those issues.
Young was arrested early Friday – four hours after the team arrived in New York – for a fight at his hotel during which police say he yelled anti-Semitic epithets. He faces a misdemeanor aggravated harassment charge that entails targeting someone for his or her religious beliefs. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.
After the game Tigers manager Jim Leyland refused to talk about Young, snapping at a reporter.
”Get lost, get lost, get lost,” Leyland said. ”Do yourself a favor and get lost.”
On a 46-degree night more reminiscent of last October than late April, the Yankees took advantage of Justin Verlander, who was hardly at his best in the frigid conditions despite reaching 98 mph – in the sixth inning. Then they tied it against Joaquin Benoit, who was part of Detroit’s lock-down relief corps last October, in the eighth on Mark Teixeira’s sacrifice fly.
”You’re going up against one of the best pitchers in the game, and scoring runs against that guy is not easy,” ” Martin said. ”But we as a team battled, we got his pitch count up a little bit and if he made a bad pitch at a certain time, we jumped on it.”
Rodriguez hit his 633rd homer in the fourth and Martin connected in the fifth to give New York a 4-3 lead. But Prince Fielder had an RBI single – one of two on Friday – and Austin Jackson’s two-run double in the sixth put Detroit back on top. Jackson had four hits.
Jeter went 0 for 4 to snap his 15-game hitting streak. For Detroit, Miguel Cabrera got his 1,000th career RBI with a single in the third.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected by plate umpire Joe West in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes, his first of the season and 15th of his career as a manager.
Nova was knocked around for 11 hits and six runs in 5 1-3 innings. But he benefited from another strong offensive effort, keeping intact his string of 15 straight wins in the regular season. He allowed the leadoff batter to reach in five of his six innings.
Detroit struggled, though, leaving 10 on base in the first six innings.
A-Rod singled in a run in the first for the early lead, but Nova walked Don Kelly leading off the second. Brad Eldred then hit a soft liner to left that got past a diving Raul Ibanez for a triple – his first hit in the majors since July 20, 2010, for Colorado.
Verlander gave up five runs – four earned – and struck out four, the first time this season he did not fan at least seven. As dominant as the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner has been, he entered 0-2 with a 4.00 ERA at the new Yankee Stadium in three starts.
Verlander insisted Young’s troubles did not affect him.
”I wasn’t worried about what was going on,” he said. ”I had to worry about pitching against the New York Yankees.”
The Tigers had four straight singles to start the third, with Cabrera and Fielder driving in runs.
Nick Swisher hit a two-out double in the sixth and scored when Kelly misplayed Ibanez’s liner to left field for an error, pulling New York to 6-5.
Notes: The Yankees held a moment of silence for Moose Skowron, who helped the team win four World Series titles in the 1950s and 1960s. Skowron died Friday of congestive heart failure in Illinois. He was 81. … A slimmed-down Joba Chamberlain was in the Yankees clubhouse before the game. Chamberlain, who dislocated his right ankle bouncing on a trampoline with his son March 22, said he could ditch his walking boot next week. Chamberlain was working his way back from major elbow surgery when he hurt his ankle. He said his arm feels ”better than it ever has.” … Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte will make another start at Double-A Trenton on Monday. … Cabrera has hits in 29 of 31 games against New York.