A-Rod sets tone early with sixth homer of season


• Summary: A-Rod hit his major league-leading sixth homer in the first inning to jumpstart the Yankees. The Yanks continued to wear down Boof Bonser with Johnny Damon's three-run homer, his first of the season, in a four-run fifth.

Alex Rodriguez

• Hero: A-Rod set the pace for the Yankees with his early homer. Rodriguez has homered in four consecutive games and his 17 RBIs lead the major leagues.

• Figure this: A-Rod became the ninth major leaguer, and first Yankee, to hit six homers in his first seven games of the season.

• Figure this II: Derek Jeter scored three times and stole the 250th base of his career on Tuesday night.

• Quotable: "C'mon! Six homers in seven games? He's supposed to do that. Just ask you guys." -- Mike Mussina teasing A-Rod in front of a throng of reporters

• Elias Says: Alex Rodriguez hit his sixth home run of the season in the Yankees seventh game on Tuesday. He's only the second in American League history with six home runs in the first seven games of a season.

-- ESPN.com news services

Yankees 10, Twins 1

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- As a horde of reporters gathered around Alex

Rodriguez, Mike Mussina barked playfully at the star third baseman

from the peanut gallery.

"C'mon! Six homers in seven games? He's supposed to do that,"

Mussina said. "Just ask you guys."

Teammate Derek Jeter also teased A-Rod during the New York

Yankees' 10-1 victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night.

It might have taken more than three years, but there are signs

that Rodriguez is finally fitting in with the Yankees.

Rodriguez homered in his fourth straight game to back a solid

performance by Andy Pettitte, then laughed and joked playfully with

several teammates after the game.

"Alex has been swinging the bat as well as I've ever seen

him," Jeter said. "I asked him if there was anything wrong with

him when he flew out."

Rodriguez, who struggled to ingratiate himself in the Yankees'

clubhouse and with their demanding fans during his first three

seasons in New York, hit his major league-leading sixth homer in

the first inning.

Johnny Damon added a three-run shot off Boof Bonser (0-1) in a

four-run fifth, and Pettitte (1-0) gave up four hits in six shutout

innings for his 150th victory with the Yankees, and his first since


The Twins have scored a total of six runs in their last four

games, though two of those were played in frigid conditions during

a weekend series at the Chicago White Sox.

Rodriguez has been making hitting look easy this season.

"He just looks very comfortable," manager Joe Torre said

before the game. "He's not up there overplaying his hand. He's up

there daring people to get him out."

In the first inning, A-Rod reached down low in the zone and

effortlessly lofted a 3-2 changeup into the left-field stands to

give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

"I'm seeing the ball pretty well," he said. "Hopefully,

things continue."

Rodriguez became the ninth major leaguer, and first Yankee, to

hit six homers in his first seven games of the season.

Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt, who hit seven homers in the first

seven games of the 1976 season, is the only player to hit more in

that span.

"I love Mike," Rodriguez said. "He's one of my favorite

players of all time. It's always an honor."

Skeptics will point out that all this production is coming

during the regular season. But the two-time AL MVP went 1-for-14 in

the playoffs last year, when he was dropped to eighth in the

batting order for the final game, and is 4-for-41 (.098) without an

RBI in his last 12 playoff games dating to 2004.

During his first tour with the Yankees, Pettitte became

synonymous with postseason success. He helped them to four World

Series titles and six AL pennants, and his 14 postseason victories

are second only to Atlanta's John Smoltz (15).

The Yankees gave Pettitte a $16 million, one-year contract with

a $16 million player option in hopes that he can shore up a shaky


"All is well ... tonight," Pettitte quipped.

Pettitte allowed more than one runner only once, and got Michael

Cuddyer to bounce into a double play and MVP Justin Morneau to

ground out to first to get out of the fourth.

It was a familiar sight for manager Ron Gardenhire, whose Twins

haven't been able to get the bats going since scoring 17 runs in a

three-game sweep of Baltimore to open the season.

Now he can add starting pitching to his list of concerns.

"Obviously, you don't want to give up home runs, but Boof's

fine," Gardenhire said during a sometimes-testy postgame

interview. "Boof just got a couple balls up tonight and they hit

them out."

After Twins starters looked sharp in the first four games of the

season, Sidney Ponson was pounded in an 8-2 loss to New York on

Monday night, and Bonser was knocked around on Tuesday. Bonser gave

up seven runs -- six earned -- and six hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"I don't know what happened there. I went out for the fifth and

it seemed like the wheels came off," Bonser said. "I threw good

pitches and they just hit them."

Game notes
The Twins' Nick Punto snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a

single in the fourth. ... Jeter was 2-for-5 and moved into a tie

with Joe DiMaggio in seventh place on the Yankees' career list with

6,821 at-bats. He also stole his 250th career base in the fifth.

... Scott Proctor allowed an RBI single to Jason Kubel in the

seventh for the Twins' only run.