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All Together Again
Bernie's back, Soriano, Jeter start as Yanks rebound
Cleveland -- When Derek Jeter played his rehabilitation games for Double-A Trenton in May, he brought in pizza for his younger, poorer teammates. So when Bernie Williams did his Trenton stint this past week, he felt the pressure. He ordered steak.
"Nick [Johnson] is going to have to go for the caviar," Williams said yesterday.
The still-injured Johnson is more likely to sing the national anthem in Trenton than buy a round of caviar. More importantly for the Yankees, Williams and Jeter played last night alongside men who need no financial aid.
Jacobs Field served as host to a Yankees family reunion of sorts. One night after Cleveland's Billy Traber threw a one-hitter against a makeshift squad, a far more imposing lineup paced the Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Indians.
Williams, sufficiently recovered from left knee surgery, drove in two runs in his first game since May 21. Jeter, who didn't start Tuesday because of a bruised right hand, pounded four hits and drove home two runs.
"It was great to get back in there and win a game, and be a part of it," Williams said. "Hopefully, we can keep these kind of games going into the second half of the season."
As Jeter said, "Obviously, the more regulars you have, the better you feel."
The Yankees also welcomed back Alfonso Soriano, who missed Tuesday's game with a bruised left hand, and Raul Mondesi, who sat out the previous four games with a strained right hip flexor. The quartet of Williams, Jeter, Soriano and Mondesi (who started at designated hitter) replaced Karim Garcia, Erick Almonte (optioned to Triple-A Columbus to make room for Williams), Enrique Wilson and John Flaherty, which is essentially the equivalent of upgrading from pizza to caviar.
The stronger lineup managed seven hits and nine walks off C.C. Sabathia (8-4) and three relievers, which provided plenty of cushion for David Wells. The lefthander scattered nine hits while giving up two runs in 7 2/3 innings, generating 18 outs through grounders. Soriano had 11 assists, one short of the major-league record for second basemen.
Wells (11-3) left the stadium as soon as he finished in order to attend a memorial service for his grandfather in the San Diego area.
Williams' five-game rehab stint in Trenton "makes you realize how good you have it up here," he said. "I could see myself in their eyes." He played one more game there than scheduled so that he would feel more comfortable upon his return to the majors.
He didn't appear in a groove last night, yet he certainly could have looked worse. When he singled home Todd Zeile in the seventh, he snapped an 0-for-23 slump that began before his surgery. "For the most part, I think I had a lot of good at-bats," said Williams, who was 1-for-4.
Before Williams went on the disabled list, the Yankees' cleanup hitters (mostly Williams) batted .291, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. While he was gone, their No. 4 batters hit .209.
"The cleanup spot, we've been trying to find someone to feel good about it," manager Joe Torre said. "It doesn't look right without Bernie. Having him makes the back of the lineup look a little more potent."
Sabathia began the game by throwing inside pitch after inside pitch, which the Yankees mostly watched for balls. Soriano walked and Jeter dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line. Jhonny Peralta let it roll, hoping it would veer foul. It never came close. Base hit. Jason Giambi walked and Williams hit a hard bouncer to shortstop Ricky Gutierrez. He let it go past him for an error, and Soriano scored for a 1-0 lead.
After Hideki Matsui struck out, Jorge Posada walked, forcing in Jeter. Ruben Sierra hit a slow grounder to third, slow enough that he beat out an attempt at a double play, which let Giambi cross home for a 3-0 lead.
Williams' seventh-inning single increased the Yankees' edge to 4-0, and in the eighth, Jeter hit a bases-loaded, two-run double to rightfield.
"That's when I'm hitting well, when I go to rightfield," Jeter said. "I've been doing that for a couple of weeks now." Jeter entered the game with a .296 batting average, and he left the ballpark with a .307 mark.
Everyone from the Yankees' clubhouse, it seemed, left in better shape than he arrived. It was that kind of night for the visitors.