4/01/2008 10:26:00 PM

Yankees Play Real Baseball

Posted by Mark McCray |

Bryan Hoch/Yankees.com:

Eighty-five years after Babe Ruth christened Yankee Stadium with a home run, the Yankees kick-started the ballpark's glorious sendoff season with the creation of a new set of memories, posting a tight 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays.

With red, white and blue bunting dangling from all decks of the facility once lauded as a towering, triple-tiered wonder of the sporting world, Melky Cabrera homered and made two outstanding catches to earn a curtain call -- the Yankees' first in a season that promises to be rife with celebratory ovations.

In the sixth, facing Blue Jays starter Roy Halladay, Cabrera connected with a high, arcing shot toward the right-field corner, well ahead of Alex Rios' leap and destined to hammer off the concrete walkway to tie the game. Cabrera's right arm shot out toward the outfield wall as he raced around the bases, and he was later summoned out of the dugout to again acknowledge the crowd.

Cabrera had a long way to run in the third inning, dashing into the gap in right-center field to flag down Lyle Overbay's deep drive before thudding against the wall with a leap. One batter later, Cabrera was racing toward left-center field, stumbling ever so slightly before grabbing Aaron Hill's low liner, completing his acrobatics with a flourishing head-first skid across the wet outfield turf.

The Yankees took the lead in the seventh off Halladay when, with the bases loaded, Aaron Hill couldn't find a quick handle on Hideki Matsui's hot ground ball to second base. Hill flipped the ball to shortstop David Eckstein's bare hand to record a putout, but Alex Rodriguez crossed the plate with the go-ahead run on the fielder's choice.

Splintering bats often with his expanding repertoire, sinker-balling starter Chien-Ming Wang limited Toronto to two runs and six hits over seven innings -- a Marco Scutaro run-scoring fielder's choice in the second and Shannon Stewart's RBI groundout -- before yielding to phenom Joba Chamberlain for the eighth inning. Chamberlain allowed the tying run to get as close as second base before he recorded two strikeouts to end the frame, pumping his fist and screaming as 55,112 did the same.

There was sweetness for Rodriguez as well. In his first at-bat since signing a landmark contract that will keep him in New York for the next decade, the reigning American League MVP picked up right where he left off in 2007 by ripping a two-out double up the gap in right-center field, scoring Bobby Abreu.

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