Derek Jeter gave Yangervis Solarte some assistance with Yankee Stadium tradition, then the rookie helped make the captain a winner in his final home opener Monday as New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2.
Jeter doubled high off the left-field wall and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s first hit in pinstripes in the fifth. Hiroki Kuroda (1-1) pitched 6 1-3 sharp innings in the Yankees’ 112th opener in New York.
In what manager Joe Girardi said would be a season-long lovefest for Jeter, the shortstop was cheered every step of the way by an adoring crowd of 48, 142 — even when his double-play grounder back to Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2) scored Solarte in the third inning for the first run.
Solarte, a career minor leaguer and non-roster invitee to spring training, continued a torrid start as the suspended Alex Rodriguez’s replacement at third base with a go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning.
Playing in his first game in the Bronx, Solarte needed Jeter to tell him to wave to the Bleacher Creatures when they chanted his name during pregame roll call.
The Orioles got RBI singles from Matt Wieters and Nelson Cruz in falling to 2-5. Adam Jones and Chris Davis struck out against Adam Warren with a runner on in the eighth and trailing 4-2.
Shawn Kelley pitched a perfect ninth for his first career save. Minutes later, the Yankees said closer David Robertson would be put on the disabled list with a strained groin.
After missing all but 17 games last season, Jeter announced Feb. 12 his 20th season would be his final one. His retirement tour started on the road, where New York went 3-3 against Houston and Toronto.
But Jeter, who went 1 for 4, has said the season doesn’t really start until the Yankees have had their home opener, and to help celebrate the team brought together the five-time World Series champion Core Four. Recently retired teammates Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera threw ceremonial first pitches to Jeter and Jorge Posada, who retired after 2011.
With an era coming to a close, change was evident everywhere.
Robertson moved into Rivera’s locker. Carlos Beltran was given Robinson Cano’s choice spot next to the door leading to the players’ off-limits sanctuary.
And the only evidence that Rodriguez — banned for the year because of his involvement in the Biogenesis drug scandal — is still a member of the Yankees was in a new series of paintings hanging in the hallway leading to the clubhouse that celebrate New York’s recent World Series championships.
A-Rod’s nameplate was not above his locker and the new plush chair sitting in front of the stall did not have a No. 13 embroidered in the seatback.
Solarte scored New York’s first run, starting the third with a walk after falling behind 0-2. He advanced to third when Brett Gardner, the only holdover starter from last year’s opening-day lineup, lined a sharp single to center field and Jones was slow to get the ball into the infield. Solarte scored on Jeter’s double-play ball back to Jimenez.
Solarte went 1 for 3 and is 9 for 20 this season with six RBIs.
The Orioles got the run right back in the fourth when Jones singled, moved to second when Gardner made a leaping catch in foul territory down the line in left on Davis’ popup and scored on Wieters’ single.
Leading 2-1, the Yankees chased Jimenez in the fifth after Brian Roberts walked to load the bases. But Zach Britton entered and walked Kelly Johnson to make it 4-1.
Jimenez yielded four runs and eight hits, walked five and struck out four in his second shaky start since signing a four-year contract in February.
NOTES: The Yankees improved to 14-2 in season openers Jeter played in. … SS J.J. Hardy was not in the starting lineup for the second straight game because of back spasms. “He’s better than he was yesterday,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. … Orioles LHP Johan Santana (shoulder surgery) was set to throw a two-inning simulated game. … Yogi Berra was at Yankee Stadium but did not participate in the pregame ceremony. Granddaughter Lindsay Berra tweeted a picture of him with Girardi, Posada and Reggie Jackson. … Ellsbury had seven hits in the Yankees’ opening road trip before putting on the home pinstripes.
SOURCE: The Associated Press