NEW YORK - Mark Teixeira got chills as Yankee Stadium roared and his teammates celebrated.
Talk about a nice time for your first postseason home run.
Teixeira hit a leadoff drive in the 11th inning to give New York a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night and a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series.
Teixeira’s drive off Jose Mijares hit the top of the left-field wall and skipped over as the rollicking sellout crowd went wild. Teixeira tossed aside his batting helmet as he approached home before being mobbed by his teammates.
“I don’t think there’s anything better in sports,” he said. “Best place to play in the world.”
Alex Rodriguez hit a tying two-run homer off Joe Nathan in the ninth after a leadoff single by Teixeira. Rodriguez also had a two-out RBI single for the Yankees, who are off to their first 2-0 postseason start since 1999 against Texas.
Minnesota was hurt by a blown call by left-field umpire Phil Cuzzi in the top of the 11th. Joe Mauer started the inning with a drive down the line that appeared to go off Melky Cabrera’s glove before clearly landing about a foot inside the line and bouncing into the stands.
Cuzzi said it was foul – it’s been a tough week for umpires, with several missed calls – and Mauer ended up with a single when he should have had a ground-rule double.
“You can’t see at all from the dugout, but I think we all know the ball was fair by a long ways,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Minnesota went on to load the bases with no outs but failed to score when David Robertson retired three consecutive batters. Delmon Young lined out to Teixeira at first, Mauer was cut down at home on Carlos Gomez’s grounder and Brendan Harris flied out. Those were the last of the 17 runners the Twins stranded. They’ve left 26 on base in the series, and also gave away a run when Gomez committed a baserunning blunder in the fourth.
Teixeira then hit New York’s first game-ending shot since Aaron Boone’s drive against the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 AL Championship Series.
Andy Pettitte will try to close out the series when he faces former Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano in Game 3 on Sunday at the Metrodome. The Yankees improved to 9-0 against the Twins this season. Minnesota has led in all six games at the Bronx, but has failed to win any of them.
Instead, the Twins saw the Yankees’ 16th walk-off win of the season, most in the majors.
Nick Blackburn held New York’s lineup to one run and three hits in 52/3 crisp innings and three relievers retired seven in a row before Nathan imploded in the ninth.
Teixeira led off with a single and Rodriguez followed with a mammoth drive into the Yankees’ bullpen in left-center for his first postseason homer since Game 4 of the 2007 ALDS.