After a dramatic come-from-behind victory on Saturday, the New York Yankees go for their first back-to-back wins of the young season when they host the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday in the deciding contest of a three-game series.
The Yankees (2-2) scored seven runs in the final two innings Saturday, culminating in Alex Rodriguez’s grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to give New York a 10-7 win.
Rodriguez, who went 3-for-4 with two home runs, four runs scored and six RBIs, is batting .389 (7-for-18) this season.
“It felt awesome,” said Rodriguez, who hit just .237 last season in close and late situations. “I was so excited, I felt like a fool running around the bases, like it was Little League.”
Designated hitter Jason Giambi helped make Rodriguez’s heroics possible with his three-run homer in the eighth inning to bring the Yankees within one run of Baltimore.
“He’s a big key to this team,” Giambi said of Rodriguez. “There is not a situation where we want him to do bad. We want him to do great.”
The Yankees look to ride the momentum into Sunday’s finale, but they’ll likely have to do it without part of their starting outfield. Left fielder Hideki Matsui left Saturday’s game with a strained left hamstring, and center fielder Johnny Damon is nursing a strained right calf.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said Matsui probably wouldn’t play until Friday in Oakland. Damon, meanwhile, had a pinch-hit strikeout in the eighth inning in his first action since sustaining the injury on opening day. It is uncertain if he will start on Sunday.
The Orioles (1-4) got plenty of offense on Saturday, as third baseman Melvin Mora went 2-for-5 with five RBIs, tying a career high. Mora has driven in five runs four times in his career, twice against New York.
The Baltimore bullpen, however, allowed seven runs in two innings to waste a solid effort from Steve Trachsel. Orioles relievers had given up only three earned runs in 14 innings in the season’s first four games.
Erik Bedard (0-1, 11.57 ERA) takes the mound for the Orioles looking to rebound from a rough season debut. The left-hander surrendered six earned runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings of the Orioles’ 7-4 opening-day loss to Minnesota on Monday.
Bedard fared well against the Yankees last season, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts and allowing only nine hits in 12 innings.
The Yankees will counter with Darrell Rasner, a 26-year-old right-hander with four career starts entering his 2007 debut. Rasner went 3-1 with a 4.43 ERA in six games - including three starts - in 2006. His one loss came in the Yankees’ Sept. 28 game against Baltimore, when he allowed five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of a 7-1 defeat.