NEW YORK (AP) – Derek Jeter and the rest of the modern-day Murderers’ Row overwhelmed the young Detroit Tigers, getting the New York Yankees off to a quick start in the first round of the AL playoffs.

Jeter tied the postseason record for hits, going 5-for-5 with a home run to lead New York over Detroit 8-4 Tuesday night in its postseason opener.

Bobby Abreu had a two-run double and Jason Giambi hit a two-run homer in the third as New York’s big boppers staked Chien-Ming Wang to a 5-0 lead. The five-run burst started, however, with something small – Johnny Damon’s slow roller for a single.

After the Tigers crawled within two runs, Abreu added a two-run single in the sixth and Jeter hit his 17th postseason home run in the eighth.

Six of New York’s seven RBIs came from Abreu and Giambi, surprising given that Nate Robertson held lefties to a .181 average during the regular season, the best among AL pitchers. Giambi was on base four times, also getting hit by pitches twice and walking.

New York’s lineup, now that everyone’s healthy, poses a mighty challenge for opposing pitchers. All nine starters are current or former All-Stars. Robinson Cano became the first player to ever start a postseason game batting ninth after finishing among the top three in his league in batting, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Alex Rodriguez, the reigning AL MVP, was dropped to sixth in the order, his lowest slot since Seattle batted him eighth on May 7, 1996, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He was a quiet 1-for-4, extending his streak of postseason games without an RBI to nine and his playoff slump to 5-for-36 (.139) over his last 10 postseason games.

Wang, a 26-year-old right-hander who rose through the Yankees’ rotation to become their ace this year, didn’t have his best sinker but got the win by allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings. Of the eight hits off him, five were doubles and one was a home run, a drive by Craig Monroe that started Detroit’s three-run fifth.

Curtis Granderson added a solo homer in the seventh off Mike Myers, who faced just one batter. Scott Proctor got Magglio Ordonez to pop out with runners at the corners, Kyle Farnsworth threw six straight balls starting the eighth but got out of it without a hit, and Mariano Rivera finished.

New York won its third straight postseason series opener.

In a 3-for-30 slide at the end of the season, Damon hit a bouncer between the mound and first. Robertson came off the mound quickly but failed to turn his glove for a backhand, and it rolled by for a single.

Jeter fell behind 0-2, then worked the count full and, with Damon running, lined the ball to left-center for a double. Abreu followed with a double to right-center for a 2-0 lead, extending his arm in excitement after he connected for his first postseason RBIs.

Leyland went out to the mound to speak with Robertson, but it didn’t stop the onslaught. Gary Sheffield lined a single to center on the next to make it 3-0 and Giambi reached down to muscle a 1-2 pitch over the right-field wall, his seventh postseason homer. Rodriguez singled, prompting Jason Grilli to start warming up, but Robertson recovered to retire the next three batters.

Detroit closed to 5-3 in the fifth, when Monroe homered to center leading off, and Placido Polanco and Sean Casey hit two-out RBI doubles. With Brian Bruney starting to get loose in the bullpen, Wang struck out Ordonez.

Abreu added a two-run single in the sixth, pulling the ball between first and second, just past a diving Polanco at second. Polanco was sidelined from mid-August until the last 10 days of the regular season by a separated left shoulder, rolled over the injured shoulder while trying to knock down the ball on the outfield grass.

Jeter homered to center in the eighth off Jamie Walker to cap off his big night.

Wang wiggled out of trouble after allowing leadoff doubles in the second and third innings. After Ordonez doubled leading off the second and Carlos Guillen walked, Ivan Rodriguez faked a bunt on the first pitch and Ordonez was caught stealing third on the next, a missed hit-and-run. Rodriguez struck out and Monroe grounded out.

Marcus Thames got a double in the second, with left fielder Hideki Matsui failed to charge a ball that bounced off the wall in foul territory, apparently thinking a fan had touched it. Granderson’s one-out single to right put runners at the corners – with Thames not testing Abreu’s arm – and Polanco bounced into a 6-4-3 double play, with Sheffield stretching like a first-base veteran for Robinson Cano’s relay.

Notes: Bob Sheppard worked the public-address microphone for the 120th consecutive postseason game at Yankee Stadium, a streak dating to 1951.

AP-ES-10-03-06 2340EDT


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