“I don’t want to jinx anything but it felt really good,” Jeter said. “It felt like maybe my first home opener. It was a fun time for me.”
Missing from the win was new Yankees closer David Robertson. He strained his groin and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Jeter doubled high off the left-field wall, nearly getting thrown out at second after he started out in a home run trot before turning up the speed, and scored on Jacoby Ellsbury’s first hit in pinstripes in the fifth. Hiroki Kuroda (1-1) pitched 6 1-3 sharp innings in the Yankees’ 112th opener in New York.
Teammates in the dugout teased Jeter for his near blunder.
In what manager Joe Girardi said would be a season-long lovefest for Jeter, the shortstop was cheered every step of the way by an adoring crowd of 48, 142 - even when his double-play grounder back to Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2) scored rookie Solarte in the third inning for the first run.
Solarte, a career minor leaguer and non-roster invitee to spring training, continued a torrid start as the suspended Alex Rodriguez’s replacement at third base with a go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning.
“Every day I look and Derek Jeter is playing next to me. I saw him since I was little and I could never even fathom that I would get to play with him on the same field,” Solarte said. “Every day I try to learn something from him.”
The Orioles got RBI singles from Matt Wieters and Nelson Cruz in falling to 2-5. Adam Jones and Chris Davis struck out against Adam Warren with a runner on in the eighth and trailing 4-2.
Matt Thornton, David Phelps, Warren and Shawn Kelley combined for hitless relief. Kelley pitched a perfect ninth for his first career save.
Robertson was hurt Sunday during his third outing as Mariano Rivera’s replacement at the back end of the bullpen after a major league-record 562 saves.
“Other guys get a chance to step up, and you expect them to step up and get the job done in his absence,” Girardi said.