Jeter hit a tying two-run homer in the seventh inning and Hideki Matsui had a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth to give the New York Yankees a 7-6 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, their second comeback from a six-run deficit this week.
“That was a humongous hit,” Rodriguez said. “I know he’s been trying to drive the ball. He hit the ball a long ways. You don’t see many right-handed hitters go to straightaway center in this ballpark.”
The Mariners led 6-0 after knocking out Donovan Osborne, making his first start since May 6, 1999, in the second.
Jeter was hitting only .181 at gametime when he homered 412 feet over the center-field fence off Julio Mateo.
“You want to help and I haven’t really been helping offensively lately,” said Jeter, who is now hitting .186 after going 2-for-5 Sunday and 3-for-13 for the series. “I just want to be comfortable at the plate and today I was comfortable.”
Jeter, a five-time All-Star shortstop, started the season with a .317 career batting average.
Jeter is going through one of the roughest periods of his career, but isn’t dwelling on his first five weeks of the season.
“I just wanted to get a good pitch,” he said of his homer. “I’ve been swinging at some bad pitches as of late. I wanted to make sure I did and fortunately it went out.”
Rodriguez and Jason Giambi also homered for the Yankees, who now have 12 come-from-behind wins. They also rallied from six down in a 10-8 win at Oakland on Tuesday.
In the eighth, Rafael Soriano (0-3) walked Rodriguez on a 3-2 count and gave up a single to Giambi to put runners on first and second. Rodriguez went to third when Gary Sheffield hit into a fielder’s choice, and scored on Matsui’s sacrifice fly to left off Shigetoshi Hasegawa.
New York’s bullpen went 7 2-3 scoreless innings, with Paul Quantrill (4-1) getting the victory by pitching the seventh. Mariano Rivera pitched the ninth for his 28th consecutive save and 12th this season.
The Mariners handed starter Jamie Moyer a 6-0 lead with a six-run second, their biggest inning of the season. But he gave up a solo homer to Rodriguez— his seventh—in the fourth, and a three-run homer to Giambi—his eighth—in the sixth.
Rodriguez has been booed strongly on his visits to Safeco Field since leaving Seattle as a free agent after the 2000 season to sign a record $252 million contract with Texas. The boos are as strong now as ever now that he’s in a Yankees uniform.
He enjoyed coming out on top against the Mariners Sunday.
“Obviously, I’m in enemy territory,” Rodriguez said. “I take it as I’m going to war every day. They’re going against me, but I’m coming at them every day.”
Moyer surrendered his eighth and ninth homers of the season, most in the AL. In six innings, Moyer allowed four runs on six hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.
The Mariners took their 6-0 lead in the second off Osborne, making his first start since May 6, 1999.
Osborne, 34, surrendered six runs on six hits and two walks in 1 1-3 innings. He was out of baseball last season after being released in spring training.
Torre tried to make Osborne feel better with humor afterward.
“I told him after the game was over, ‘Without you today, this comeback wouldn’t have been possible,”’ Torre said with a smile. “I can kid with him like that because I’ve known him a long time.”
Torre stopped short when asked if Donovan would start Saturday at Yankee Stadium against the Mariners, the next time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
Osborne was disappointed in his performance.
“I just didn’t do my job today,” he said. “I was up in the zone for the time I was in.”
It was the Mariners’ biggest inning of the season and the most runs scored in an inning against the Yankees this season.
After scoring their sixth run with one out in the second, the Mariners had only three baserunners the rest of the game.
Mariners manager Bob Melvin said his team’s weak offensive effort after the second inning was the key to the loss.
“We need to try to add on there,” he said. “When you score six runs on a team like that, you need to try and pile it on on right there and score acouple more runs. That is a tough defeat.”
Wilson’s homer was only the 22nd of the season for the Mariners, fewest in the AL. … OF Bernie Williams tied Frank Crosetti (1932-1948) for 10th place in games played at 1,683 with the Yankees—11 behind current bench coach Willie Randolph. Mickey Mantle is first with 2,401. … Osborne had his shortest start since getting just one out Aug. 23, 1993. … Rodriguez hit his 34th career homer at Safeco Field. … The Mariners blew their fifth save ofthe season, and have five saves in 10 opportunities.