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New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter moves into third place all-time in postseason home runs

NEW YORK — Given the opportunity, Derek Jeter has made the most of it.

Or, for now anyway, the third most.

With a third-inning shot to rightfield on Satur­day, Jeter moved past Yankees legends Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle to take over third place on the all-time postseason home run list with 19.

Only Manny Ramirez, with 29, and Bernie Williams, with 22, have more than Jeter. All three have benefited from baseball's postseason format, which has been expanded to include three rounds, and best-of-seven league championship play.

Jeter, 35, has played in a major-league-most 128 postseason games over 13 seasons, hitting 10 homers in division series, six in ALCS play and three in the World Series. Ramirez has played in 108 in 11 seasons (hitting 12 in division series, 13 in league championship series and four in the World Series), and Williams in 121 over 12 seasons (hitting eight in ALDS play, nine in ALCS play and five in the Series).

Mantle played in only 65 postseason games — all in the World Series. Jackson played in 77 postseason games and hit two in division series play (1981), six in the ALCS and 10 in the World Series.

Jeter ranks at the top of the postseason charts in hits (160) and runs (91) and has hit in 42 of his past 50 postseason games.

STICKING WITH JOSE: Performance has proved him right, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to make the same difficult decision he faced in Game 2 of the division series, benching veteran C Jorge Posada to continue pairing C Jose Molina with starter A.J. Burnett.

"It's tough taking Jorge out of the lineup," Girardi said. "You look at what Jorge has done in his three starts and the way our pitchers have thrown … and the way he's swung the bat. It's tough to take him out of the lineup. But that combination worked well in Round 1, and I just thought I'd stay with it."

Burnett said he is more comfortable and in a better rhythm when throwing to Molina, who has caught his past eight starts.

FACEBOOK: Told that Girardi referred to him the other day as "the face" of the Angels franchise, manager Mike Scioscia deadpanned: "That's an ugly look."

He went on to say he didn't deserve such a title, that the Angels' success is the result of many contributors, from owner Arte Moreno on down, and that if there was to be a face, "I think you're probably going to look to a player — to a player that's contributed a lot over the years, whether it's, you know, Timmy Salmon or Vlad Guerrero or Garret Anderson or John Lackey, or Torii Hunter now. I think those guys are the guys on the field that are going — you're going to win or lose with, and that's where the focus should be."

PITCHING IN: The Yankees' plan was to use LHP CC Sabathia in Games 1, 4 and 7, and Girardi said the big lefty came through Friday's 113-pitch performance in fine shape to do so, though a final decision won't be made until today or Monday.

"Physically I think he's very good," Girardi said. "I don't think we really pushed him too far (Friday). I think when you start to get to 120, above 120, you start to push a guy."

If Sabathia doesn't start Game 4, former Ray Chad Gaudin appears likely.

MISCELLANY: Game-time temperature was 47 degrees, two degrees warmer than Friday. … Heaters were installed in both dugouts prior to Saturday's game. … Tampa's Tino Martinez threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter moves into third place all-time in postseason home runs 10/18/09 [Last modified: Sunday, October 18, 2009 5:31pm]

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