NEW YORK (AP)— Feted by fans and celebrated by teammates throughout his final opening day in the Bronx, Derek Jeter hardly felt as if he was starting his 20th big league season at home.
Jeter gave Yangervis Solarte some assistance with Yankee Stadium tradition, then the rookie helped make the captain a winner yesterday as New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2.
“I don’t want to jinx anything but it felt really good,” Jeter said. “It felt like maybe my first home opener. It was a fun time for me.”
Missing from the win was new Yankees closer David Robertson. He strained his groin and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Jeter doubled high off the left-field wall, nearly getting thrown out at second after he started out in a home run trot before turning up the speed, and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s first hit in pinstripes in the fifth. Hiroki Kuroda (1-1) pitched 6 1-3 sharp innings in the Yankees’ 112th opener in New York.
Teammates in the dugout teased Jeter for his near blunder.
“For Derek, at 40, we’re going to let it slide,” said injured first baseman Mark Teixeira, pushing Jeter’s 40th birthday up a couple of months from June.
In what manager Joe Girardi said would be a season-long lovefest for Jeter, the shortstop was cheered every step of the way by an adoring crowd of 48,142 — even when his double-play grounder back to Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2) scored rookie Solarte in the third inning for the first run.
Solarte, a career minor leaguer and non-roster invitee to spring training, continued a torrid start as the suspended Alex Rodriguez’s replacement at third base with a go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning.
Playing in his first game in the Bronx, Solarte needed Jeter to tell him to wave to the Bleacher Creatures when they chanted his name during pregame roll call.