Published May 21, 2011
NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez slid both hands into the pockets of his black jeans and smiled.
"I showed them, didn't I?" he said before cracking a smile and laughing.
Once again, a team intentionally walked Mark Teixeira to pitch to A-Rod.
Once again, A-Rod came up with a big hit, even though this one didn't travel very far.
After Derek Jeter tied the score with a two-run single, Rodriguez followed Teixeira's walk with a 55-foot, six-hop single that put the New York Yankees ahead during an eight-run seventh inning Sunday that led them over the Mets 9-3.
Back in first place in the AL East, the Yankees took two of three from their crosstown rival, bouncing back after losing the opener.
"We've been talking about playing small ball here for the last week or two, and I don't think it could have gone any smaller," Rodriguez said. "Those are the things we have not been doing the last three or four weeks."
The Mets led 3-1 heading into the seventh. Curtis Granderson's 16th homer — second in the majors to Toronto's Jose Bautista — put the Yankees ahead in the first against Mike Pelfrey (3-4), but the Mets plowed ahead in the second when Willie Harris and Jason Pridie hit run-scoring singles around Ronny Paulino's RBI comebacker. While Ivan Nova allowed 11 hits in 6 2-3 innings, all but the last was a single.
Brett Gardner singled between Pelfrey's legs and into center leading off the seventh, Chris Dickerson walked and Francisco Cervelli was hit on a shoulder with a pitch when he squared to bunt.
Jeter, who had been 3 for 24 this year with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, grounded the next pitch up the middle, just to the side of Pelfrey's glove at the mound and past diving shortstop Jose Reyes behind second. Two runs scored on the single, just the second time since Aug. 11 that Jeter tied the score or put the Yankees ahead from the seventh inning on. With two hits, Jeter raised his average to .268 and moved within 25 of 3,000.
"A lot of times it's not how hard you hit them, it's where you hit them," Jeter said. "We were fortunate. We had a lot of balls that fell in for us."
Tim Byrdak relieved, Granderson sacrificed and the Mets walked Teixeira, a move that usually backfires when A-Rod is up next.
This time was no different.
Rodriguez reached outside for the first pitch from Pedro Beato. While third baseman Willie Harris picked up the slow roller, he had no play as A-Rod reached and Gardner sprinted home.
"It wasn't a grand slam. It was just as effective in a sense," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez is 7 for 13 (.538) with three homers and 23 RBIs in 18 career plate appearances following intentional walks, including 6 for 8 with 19 RBIs following intentional walks to Teixeira. Both A-Rod and Teixeira were aware of the statistic, which was flashed on the scoreboard.
"They got exactly what they wanted. Alex just didn't hit it hard enough," Teixeira said. "Any time you have a sinkerballer against a righty, you're going to take those odds, but Alex has beaten them."
Pelfrey, towel around his neck, stared into space from the dugout. Mets manager Terry Collins, arms crossed, looked stonefaced. He wasn't aware of that trend.
"I still got to get a groundball and I got a groundball, by the way," Collins said. "I'm well aware of A-Rod, who he is, what he is, what he's been and what he'll still be. He's truly one of the great players who's ever played this game, but the situation dictates you try to get out of the inning with a groundball."
Robinson Cano singled to right for a 5-3 lead, and, after Jorge Posada took a called third strike, Gardner hit a two-run double off Pat Misch. Chris Dickerson, starting in place of slumping right fielder Nick Swisher, blooped a two-run single to left that capped the Yankees' biggest inning of the season. The Yankees sent 13 batters to plate, and their Nos. 7-9 hitters reached twice apiece in the inning.
Coming in, the Yankees had scored 52.2 percent of their runs on homers.
"I don't care how we score, to be quite honest with you," Jeter said. "Home run, singles, doubles, triples, it really doesn't make a difference."
Girardi said too much a fuss is made over the Bronx Bomber offense.
"It's just a hit that goes a little farther," he said.
Luis Ayala (1-0) got four outs to win in relief of Nova, Ayala's first major league victory since April 7, 2009, for Minnesota against Seattle. The Yankees have won 11 of 13 regular-season series against the Mets in the Bronx.
Prior to breaking out against the Mets on Saturday and Sunday, the Yankees had lost six straight home games for the first time since 2003. They hope the wins against the rival ended their slump.
"Sometimes things are contagious," Jeter said, "and it seems like it was that inning."
NOTES: Since a tying single in the ninth at Texas on Aug. 11, Jeter's only other tying or go-ahead hit from the seventh on was a leadoff home in the seventh at Texas on May 8 that put New York ahead 5-4, according to STATS LLC. ... Swisher is in a 16-for-90 (.178) slide. ... The Yankees improved to 2-14 when trailing after six innings. ... Jeter has a 25-game hitting streak in home games against the Mets.