07/12/08 8:10 PM ET
Milestone homers carry Yanks to win
Jeter leads off with No. 200; Rodriguez passes Mantle for 13th
By Gregor Chisholm / Special to MLB.com
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez both homered and drove in three runs as the Yankees broke out of an eight-game offensive letdown with a 9-4 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Jeter's homer was the 200th of his career, while Rodriguez's blast was his 537th long ball, which moved him past Yankees great Mickey Mantle for 13th on the all-time Major League home run list.
Left fielder Brett Gardner also joined in on the attack with a pair of singles and three RBIs, as every Yankees starter -- except for first baseman Jason Giambi -- reached base.
"Jetes got us going with that home run in the first," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Then you get three RBIs from Jete, A-Rod and Gardner. Everyone contributed -- almost everyone got on base and it was nice to see."
It's especially nice for Girardi to see, considering his team entered Saturday's contest having averaged 2.5 runs per game over its previous eight affairs.
In an effort to change the fortunes of his club, prior to the game, Girardi opted to adjust his starting lineup. The biggest change he made was inserting Jeter into the leadoff spot. The move proved to pay immediate dividends.
Jeter led off the game with an opposite-field home run on the second pitch he saw from Jays starter Jesse Litsch. It was the 18th time he had led off a game with a home run during his 12-year tenure in New York.
New York's offensive attack continued in the second and third innings. During those two frames, the Yankees (50-44) scored seven runs while sending 16 batters to the plate. Gardner was one of the unlikely offensive catalysts, recording three RBIs on a pair of singles to help break the game open.
The biggest step forward for the Yankees' offense may have been that they capitalized on a pair of Jays errors during those two key innings, which helped set the table for two extended rallies.
"When teams give you extra outs, you have to make sure you score runs," Girardi said of his team, which chased Litsch (8-6) from the game after he surrendered eight runs (three earned) on seven hits in 2 2/3 innings.
In the fourth, it was Rodriguez's turn. With the Yankees leading, 8-4, the All-Star third baseman worked the count full against Jays reliever Brian Tallet before lining a ball off the foul pole in left field for his 19th home run of the season. Rodriguez is 11 home runs shy of Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for 12th on the all-time home run list.
"That just shows you that's a man with a lot of power who has been doing it for a long time," Girardi said of his third baseman, who drove in two more runs in the top of the second with a two-out single. "He's consistent in his approach, his work ethic and he's going to get a few more people on that [all-time] list, too."
From the early stages, it appeared as though Yankees right-hander Darrell Rasner would be in for a long day. He surrendered four runs on three hits and a walk during the first inning, including a bases-clearing triple to Jays left fielder Adam Lind.
From there, though, the 27-year-old settled down. He battled through four more innings of shutout ball, finishing his five innings having surrendered seven hits and one walk, while striking out six. The most telling statistic of the afternoon was that Rasner managed to limit the Jays to just two hits in 13 opportunities with runners in scoring position.
"I thought he pitched fairly decent," Girardi said. "He really buckled down. ... He didn't walk people, and he allowed our defenders to make plays. It just shows you he made the pitches when he had to."
Gregor Chisholm is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.