NEW YORK (AFP) – New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter smacked a home run on the first pitch he saw Sunday and made his second injury comeback of the Major League Baseball season a triumphant one.
The 39-year-old shortstop, who had missed all but one game this season after battling back from a fractured ankle and then an injury to his quadriceps in his first comeback bid, went 2-for-4 and scored twice in a 6-5 victory over Tampa Bay.
The Yankees, struggling with injuries all season, had lost eight of their prior 11 games.
Jeter, hitting second in the Yankees’ lineup, blasted a pitch from Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore into the right-field grandstands in the first inning to give New York a 1-0 lead over the American League East division leaders.
Jeter’s blast snapped an eight-game homer-less streak for the Yankees, the longest such drought for the storied club since 1984, and delighted the crowd at Yankee Stadium.
After Jeter sparked a three-run first inning for New York, Tampa Bay seized a 4-3 lead before the Yankees added two runs in the third only to have the Rays equalize at 5-5 with a lone run in the fifth inning.
Panamanian ace relief pitcher Mariano Rivera blanked the Rays in the top of the ninth inning and Alfonso Soriano smacked a single with one out in the bottom of the ninth to score Brett Gardner with the winning run.
Soriano, obtained two days earlier in a trade with the Chicago Cubs, went 4-for-5 at the plate with a two-run home and drove in three runs.
Japanese star Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-4 for the Yankees also knocked in a run.