NEW YORK — Reggie Jackson threw the ceremonial first pitch Friday night, but Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira carved their own niches as the newest Mr. Octobers.
After enduring a history of miserable postseason play, Rodriguez, the highly magnified third baseman, refueled the Yankees' offense in dramatic style.
Rodriguez ripped a score-tying, two-run home run off All-Star closer Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Teixeira led off the bottom of the 11th with a line-drive home run just inside the left-field foul pole off Jose Mijares to give the Yankees a 4-3 victory against the Twins.
Teixeira's first postseason home run gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead in this best-of-five American League division series, with a chance to sweep Sunday night at the Metrodome.
"I really thought it was going to be a double because there was so much topspin," Teixeira said. "I started running hard and the crowd starting going nuts, so I thought it was a home run."
Along with Rodriguez's heroics, the Yankees escaped in the top of the 11th after the Twins loaded the bases with none out. David Robertson, the eighth Yankees pitcher, induced a line-drive out to first, a forceout at home and a routine fly to center.
That came after the Yankees blew a chance to win in the 10th after placing the winning run at third with one out. Johnny Damon hit a line drive at shortstop Orlando Cabrera as pinch-runner Brett Gardner broke toward home, and Cabrera threw to third to easily nail Gardner for the final out.
The Yankees improved to 9-0 against the Twins this season. They won all three regular-season games at the Metrodome.
Entering the ALDS, Rodriguez had gone 18 consecutive at-bats without a hit with runners in scoring position and two outs. He erased that with a pair of RBI hits in a win in Game 1.
"People can say whatever they want to say about [Rodriguez]," said reliever Joba Chamberlain. "The man is great, and he continues to prove it every day." Until the ninth, Rodriguez accounted for the Yankees' offense by hitting a two-out, score-tying single off Nick Blackburn in the sixth.
Through the first eight innings, Blackburn and three relievers held the Yankees to three hits. Blackburn no-hit them through the first 4 2/3 innings.
In the ninth, Nathan gave up a hard single to Teixeira that set up Rodriguez's blast to right-center.
The Twins were on the verge of taking a 1-0 lead on Matt Tolbert's single to right in the fourth. But Carlos Gomez rounded second hard and slipped. Right fielder Nick Swisher threw to Derek Jeter, who tagged Gomez for the third out before Delmon Young crossed the plate.