All-Star trip memorable for Yankees
Jeter, Rodriguez, Posada collect one hit each in AL's victory
SAN FRANCISCO -- Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez all stroked hits in the American League's 5-4 victory at San Francisco's AT&T Park on Tuesday, and they can only hope that their claim to winning baseball continues as they rejoin their teammates for the second half.
"Good representation for the New York Yankees," Rodriguez said. "It makes us very proud to have been here on the West Coast representing the organization. You like to see your teammates having success."
The Yankees' turnout at the Midsummer Classic was among the franchise's lightest -- just once in the last 10 years have the Yankees brought as few as three All-Stars to support the AL squad -- but those who were selected vowed to treasure the memories of a notable game by the bay.
For Jeter, the lasting impression of his time in San Francisco will be time shared with Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who was honored in a touching pregame ceremony. With the Reds' Ken Griffey Jr., Jeter spent time interviewing Mays for the FOX Network during All-Star week.
"That was special," Jeter said. "I had the opportunity ... [to] do an interview with him for about 30 minutes, ask him some questions, spend some time with him. It was real special to be involved. That's what I'll take from this All-Star Game."
As Mays made his way to a waiting 1958 Cadillac Eldorado, tears beading his eyes as he prepared to take him on a victory lap of sorts around the field, Jeter placed his hand on Mays' back and exchanged some thoughts in a ceremony that was clearly top-notch.
The Yankees are not a franchise unaccustomed to first-class treatment, but even they found several parts of Tuesday's presentations to be notable, including the flowing red carpets that greeted players as they entered the stadium and trailed from the dugouts to first and third bases for pregame introductions.
"I think the All-Star Game gets better and better," Posada said. "It was fun, I'll tell you what. It was fun for the fans, and if I was a fan, I would enjoy that. That was big-time."
Attending was, for Rodriguez -- baseball's leader in home runs and RBIs entering the second half -- perhaps one of the best decisions he could have made. During a June series at AT&T Park, Rodriguez spoke at length in positive terms regarding the San Francisco stadium and his affinity for the Bay Area. His tone was much the same on Tuesday.
"This is the best one I've been involved in in my 11 years," Rodriguez said, running off a list of positive trends such as the players' proximity to AT&T Park and the well-run planning and execution of the exhibition.
After suffering a left hamstring injury in a game against the Twins last week, Rodriguez briefly considered not playing in Tuesday's All-Star Game, but he tested his leg during a weekend series against the Angels and pronounced himself fit enough to compete, though at reduced speed.
Rodriguez's hindrance came into play in the fourth inning, as he singled off the Phillies' Cole Hamels and stole second base, running on an injury that he estimated kept him to only 75 or 80 percent. A pair of groundouts later, Rodriguez was in motion again, waved home to score on an Ivan Rodriguez hit to right field, but Griffey scooped the ball and unloaded a terrific throw to the plate that nailed Rodriguez by a good 15 feet.
Laughing and saying that he was simply "treading water," Rodriguez said he didn't really care how much Griffey's one-hop throw beat him by.
"I was going at one pace, no matter what," Rodriguez said. "I wasn't going to speed up or slow down. I had 80 percent, 75 percent, and I was not going to waver. I wasn't really concerned."
The evening had an inauspicious beginning for both Jeter and Rodriguez, the left side of the AL infield, as the Padres' Jake Peavy got Jeter to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play. Later in the first inning, Rodriguez was robbed on a diving play by his New York third-base counterpart, the Mets' David Wright, who stabbed a ball hit to his left and threw Rodriguez out at first base.
Jeter hit a two-out single to center off the Brewers' Ben Sheets in the third inning but was stranded on base. Posada, who made it to the All-Star Game as a reserve on the players ballot, entered as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning for Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett.
Facing Padres right-hander Chris Young, Posada flied out to center field for the first out of the inning, preceding Ichiro Suzuki's inside-the-park home run, and he would join the Yankees' hit parade with an eighth-inning double to center off the Padres' Trevor Hoffman.
With Jeter and Rodriguez lifted from the game after 1-for-3 performances, Posada was in for the final five innings, which threatened to extend the game into extra frames when Seattle's J.J. Putz and the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez struggled to lock down the National League.
It got as far as a harrowing bases-loaded, two-out situation, but the battery of Rodriguez and Posada ended the sweating by getting the Phillies' Aaron Rowand to sky harmlessly to right field, once again securing home-field advantage for the AL World Series club.
"The ninth was tough," Posada said. "You get out there and you're trying to do everything possible to scratch not to let a ball get away or for the guys to advance. Putz, it seemed like he was trying to do it too quick, and Rodriguez came in there and shut it down."
Posada said that for all the Yankees, the contest served as a nice teaser for what could be next summer in the Bronx for the 2008 All-Star Game.
"If I don't make another All-Star Game, I would like to make that one," Posada said. "That's going to be the perfect scenario for a Yankees person, a Yankees player."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.