ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — For the second straight year, the Los Angeles Angels’ management went out of its way to honor a retiring member of the New York Yankees’ “Core Four.” Last season it was Mariano Rivera, who retired as the all-time saves leader and received a painting of himself.
This time, Jered Weaver, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Howie Kendrick carried a 12-foot-long pinstriped paddleboard with Jeter’s No. 2 and the Yankee logo to the middle of the diamond before Wednesday night’s game and presented it to him following a milestone-studded video tribute as the sellout crowd of 44,083 roared its approval.
And how did the Yankees’ captain thank them? He hit his first home run of the season against still-winless Hector Santiago to help the Yankees beat the Angels 9-2.
“The last game in Yankee Stadium I struck him out, but that’s Jeter. You expect great things out of him,” Santiago said. “He hadn’t had a home run all year – and then he hits a cutter about 400 feet for a home run. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a cutter to him.”
Jeter’s two-out drive to left-center in the second inning ended a home run drought of 161 at-bats for the Yankee captain. It was the 257th of his career and first since July 28, 2013, against Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore at New York. In Monday’s series opener, he doubled to end a drought of 55 at-bats without an extra-base hit.
“When he came up to the plate the first time, I kind of gave him a little head nod, like `Hey, we appreciate what you’re doing here.’ But then you just battle, man,” Santiago said. “I felt like I made a good pitch to him his next time up. He’s gotten me in the past on off-speed stuff, so I just went away from that. It was one of the better cutters I’ve thrown my last seven starts, and he got me.”
Eleven of Jeter’s last 12 home runs have been solo shots, including one against Santiago when he pitched for the White Sox in August 2012.
“I’m not catching Babe Ruth or anything, but at least you’d like to get one,” Jeter said. “The important thing is that we got a win. It was a good game for us in a lot of different ways.”
Jeter got a standing ovation before his final at-bat during the Yankees’ three-run eighth. He hit a fielder’s choice comebacker to reliever Cory Rasmus for a force at the plate after a two-run single by John Ryan Murphy, and Carlos Beltran added a sacrifice fly.
Unless both clubs meet in the playoffs, this was Jeter’s swan song against the Halos, who dropped two of three in the Bronx 1 1-2 weeks ago.
“The fans have been awesome here from the first game of the series,” Jeter said. “It’s something that you’ll remember, and I appreciate it. I’ve played a lot of games here in the regular season and postseason, so I have fond memories of playing in Anaheim.
“That was a cool gift,” he said of the paddleboard. “I thought that was awesome. I can use that in my backyard. But I don’t expect something everywhere I go. I mean, this was a surprise to me.”
Santiago (0-6) was charged with six runs, five hits and three walks in 2 1-3 innings, throwing 30 of his 58 pitches during the Yankees’ five-run first. The left-hander, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, also lost a 4-3 decision on April 26 at Yankee Stadium.
It was also a tough night for Angels right fielder Collin Cowgill, who fouled out to first base with the based loaded to end the second inning, then flied out to center in the seventh to strand three more. He also was charged with an error in the first when he bumped into Trout on Jeter’s routine flyball as Trout camped under it. The ball fell, leading to four unearned runs.
“Mike went a long way for it. It’s just an obvious miscommunication. That’s it,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Vidal Nuno (1-0) allowed a run and four hits in 6 13 innings, struck out three and retired 14 of his last 15 batters.
NOTES: Rookie C.J. Cron, playing in his fifth big league game, had three hits for the second time and is 8 for 19 overall with three RBIs. … Angels rookie reliever Mike Morin escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fourth when 1B Albert Pujols turned Carlos Beltran’s grounder into a force at the plate – then started an inning-ending 3-2-3 double play.