The New York Yankees gave their fans a scare before rallying for a dramatic victory in their Yankee Stadium opener. New York goes for its third straight win when it takes on the Kansas City Royals in the second game of their three-game series Wednesday.
Derek Jeter’s three-run homer capped a five-run rally in the eighth inning and the Yankees beat the Royals 9-7 on Tuesday afternoon.
New York (3-4), which wasted a 4-1 fourth-inning lead and trailed 7-4 in the eighth, has won two straight for the first time this year. After opening the season with a victory over Oakland, the Yankees dropped the next two to the A’s and the first two games against the Los Angeles Angels before taking the finale Sunday.
“The season doesn’t officially start till you get this one out of the way,” Jeter said after the Yankees won their club-record ninth straight home opener. “Fortunately, we were able to sneak this one out.”
Kansas City appeared to be on its way to breaking an 11-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium before New York battled back in the eighth. The Yankees loaded the bases and got an RBI groundout from Robinson Cano and a run-scoring single from Bernie Williams before Jeter’s homer.
“It seems when something needs to happen, he seems to be at the start of it or the end of it,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Jeter.
New York’s pitching was a cause for concern, however, as Chien-Ming Wang struggled for the second straight start, allowing five runs and eight hits in six innings.
Shawn Chacon, Wednesday’s starter, also had problems in his first outing, allowing four runs and eight hits in only 4 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to the Angels on Friday. He’ll look to bounce back at Yankee Stadium, where he went 3-2 with a 2.68 ERA in seven games, including six starts, last season after being acquired from Colorado.
Chacon’s last start in the Bronx came in Game 4 of the AL division series against the Angels on Oct. 9, when he pitched 6 1-3 innings and allowed two runs in New York’s 3-2 victory that sent the series back to Anaheim.
Johnny Damon seemed at ease in his first game wearing a Yankees home uniform Tuesday, going 1-for-3 with two runs, a double and a walk. Damon upped his average to .310 this season after leaving archrival Boston and signing with the Yankees during the offseason.
Jason Giambi helped the Yankees to a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer in the first inning. The first baseman came into the game hitting .167 (3-for-18) with no extra-base hits.
The Royals (2-4) dropped their second straight after winning the first two games of their series against the Chicago White Sox last weekend. Starting pitcher Joe Mays departed after giving up four runs and five walks in 2 2-3 innings, and Andrew Sisco and Ambiorix Burgos combined to allow all five runs in the eighth.
“It seems like we’ve seen this story in Yankee Stadium before,” first baseman Mike Sweeney said. “We showed a lot of character, never stopped fighting, we take the lead, and we lose. It happened a couple of years ago on opening day.”
Jeremy Affeldt will take the ball for Kansas City on Wednesday. The left-hander gave up six runs in four innings of his first start Friday, but the Royals went on to defeat the White Sox 11-7. Affeldt didn’t get a decision.
Affeldt has faced the Yankees 10 times, all but once in relief, and is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA against them.
The teams conclude the series Thursday afternoon.