Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Sunday, but it was Curtis Granderson’s inside the park homer that was key to New York’s 3-0 victory over Minnesota.
Rodriguez, sidelined for almost two months by a knee injury that hindered his swing, batted cleanup and played third base for the series finale against the Twins.
Manager Joe Girardi opted not to work him in as a designated hitter since the Yankees were off yesterday, giving him a chance to rest.
“He feels good,” Girardi said. “And with the day off tomorrow we thought it made sense to play him at third base today and see how he does in the nine innings. He should be fresh.”
In his first major league baseball game since July 7, Rodriguez went 0 for 5.
He grounded out to shortstop twice, popped out to first base with bases loaded in the fifth, flew out to center field in the seventh and popped out to right field in the ninth.
“I was happy with the way I saw the ball and happy with my balance,” Rodriguez said. “I got a lot of good pitches to hit and just missed them by a little bit. But I liked the way I felt up there.”
In the eighth inning Rodriguez responded to a soft bunt down the third baseline, bare-handing the ball and making the throw to first in time.
However, he also mishandled a fast ground ball to his backhand.
However, Mark Teixeira also homered and Ivan Nova pitched seven shutout innings for New York.
Rodriguez missed 38 games after surgery to repair the meniscus in his right knee. While injured he had just 13 home runs in his first 80 games this season and hasn’t hit a homer since June 11.
Although the Yankees went 25-13 without him, they are pleased to have him back to boost their offense as they duel with Boston for the AL East division title.
“Today was a big success, especially because we won the game, most importantly,” Rodriguez said. “I got five at-bats, got some work on the field. But for the most part, I liked the way I felt up there.”
RAYS 8, MARINERS 7
In St Petersburg, Florida, Johnny Damon lost a Grand Slam to a video review in the seventh inning, then hit a game-ending home run in the ninth that lifted the Tampa Bay Rays over the Seattle Mariners.
Damon connected for a leadoff shot in the ninth on the first pitch from Dan Cortes (0-2), sending his 11th homer of the season into the right-field seats.
The Rays trailed 5-4 in the seventh when Damon launched a drive to right-center field. First ruled a home run, the umpires changed the call to a three-run double after a video review.
After blowing an early four-run lead, Seattle tied it at seven during the eighth when Wily Mo Pena hit a long two-run homer to center off James Shields.
In other AL play, it was:
‧ Tigers 8, Indians 7
‧ Red Sox 6, Royals 1
‧ Blue Jays 1, Athletics 0
‧ Angels 7, Orioles 1
‧ White Sox 10, Rangers 0
AP, NEW YORK
Prince Fielder drove in the go-ahead run on a botched potential double-play grounder in the eighth and Yovani Gallardo shut down the Mets for seven innings, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 6-2 victory on Sunday for their first series sweep in New York.
Casey McGehee homered off R.A. Dickey in the fourth and Ryan Braun had three hits, an RBI and scored twice after stealing bases for the Brewers.
Milwaukee won three straight in Queens to send the Mets six games under .500 for the first time since May 4 with a thorough display of superior baseball this weekend.