After the Yankees unveiled a huge monument to their late owner, Jeter singled home the go-ahead run in the sixth inning. Curtis Granderson(notes) followed with his second home run of the night, a three-run drive that helped New York to an 8-6 victory Monday over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays in a key AL East matchup.
Winning the opener of a four-game series that started its final homestand, New York (91-59) opened a 1 1/2 -game lead over the Rays (89-60) and cut Tampa Bay’s advantage in the season series—the first tiebreaker for the division title— to 8-7. New York lowered its magic number for clinching a playoff berth to five.
Steinbrenner, the team’s owner from 1973 until his death on July 13 at age 80, joined Miller Huggins (unveiled in 1932), Lou Gehrig (1941), Babe Ruth (1949), Mickey Mantle (1996) and Joe DiMaggio (1999) as the only individuals with monuments behind the center-field fence at new Yankee Stadium. His 7-by-5-foot 760-pound monument of bronze atop a granite base is behind the quintet of 2-by-3-foot monuments honoring the pinstriped famous five.
Jeter likely will be honored there one day, too. With two runs, he tied Mantle for third on the Yankees list at 1,677, trailing only Ruth (1,959) and Gehrig (1,888).
After Tampa rallied from a four-run deficit, Jeter’s hit off Matt Garza(notes) (14-9) followed Brett Gardner’s(notes) leadoff infield single and Francisco Cervelli’s(notes) hit-and-run single through the vacated hole at shortstop. With New York ahead 5-4, Granderson greeted Grant Balfour(notes) with a three-run homer.
Granderson tied his career high with five RBIs. Eighteen of his 21 homers have come off right-handers.
Chad Gaudin(notes) (1-4) won in relief of rookie Ivan Nova(notes), who allowed three runs, three hits and two walks in 5-2 3 innings. Mariano Rivera(notes) rebounded from Sunday’s blown save at Baltimore to get his 32nd in 36 chances. Evan Longoria(notes) hit a two-out single and Rivera hit Dan Johnson(notes) with a pitch before retiring Matt Joyce(notes) on a groundout with two on.
Garza gave up seven runs—five earned—eight hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings. He’s allowed 17 earned runs in his last three starts, raising his ERA from 3.46 to 4.01, after giving up 17 earned runs in his previous 11 outings.
Coming off a 3-6 trip, New York built its early lead on Granderson’s two-run homer in the third and a pair of unearned runs in the fifth after second baseman Ben Zobrist(notes) fumbled Cervelli’s leadoff grounder. Alex Rodriguez(notes) hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, and Garza walked Nick Swisher(notes) on five pitches with the bases loaded.
Nova couldn’t hold the 4-0 lead, allowing the first four batters to reach in sixth. A catcher’s interference call on Cervelli with Carl Crawford(notes) at the plate drove in the first run, Longoria grounded into a run-scoring double play, Johnson greeted Boone Logan(notes) with an RBI single and Gaudin walked B.J. Upton(notes) with the bases loaded before Jason Bartlett’s(notes) inning-ending flyout.
NOTES: Steinbrenner’s granddaughter, Haley Swindal, fulfilled a promise to her grandfather to one day sing at Yankee Stadium by performing “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch. Frank Sinatra Jr. sang the national anthem before the game. … Mark Teixeira(notes), Rodriguez and Robinson Cano(notes) combined to go 0 for 13.