NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter rarely pulls homers to left field, but he's more than familiar with postseason success.
Jeter's two-run homer in the third inning -- a rare shot to left for the opposite-field-minded shortstop -- was his 18th career postseason blast. With it, he tied Mickey Mantle and Reggie Jackson for third place on the all-time postseason homers list. He also tied the score at 2-2 and helped catapult the Yankees to a 7-2 win over the Twins in Game 1 of the American League Division Series.
"It's pretty fitting what he did tonight," manager Joe Girardi said. "Lead off the game with a single and then the home run to tie up the score -- that's Derek Jeter this time of year."
Jeter finished the game 2-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored. He extended his postseason records in games played (now at 124), hits (155) and runs scored (88).
"I think this is the fun time of year," Jeter said. "It's not taking anything away from the regular season, but this is when you like to play as a player. You like to play in the playoffs, in big games. Doesn't mean you're always going to be successful. But you try to treat it like any other game, which can be difficult at times."
"He pulled a home run, didn't he?" Nick Swisher said with a smile. "Just to see the way he is on the field, such a leader. To see him go out there, leading off the game -- base hit again, surprise -- and then hit that home run and tie the game up, I think that was huge. I think that was a big boost for us. I think we all followed him on it."
Most career playoff homers
Derek Jeter moved into a tie for third place with Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for the most postseason homers with his two-run shot in the third inning of Game 1
Jeter has been a fixture on the playoff stage since his rookie season in 1996. With the exception of 2008, he has made a perennial appearance in baseball's second season. A career .317 hitter in the regular season, Jeter has a .311 average in the postseason -- and against baseball's best.
"No matter how you look at it, baseball is baseball, whether it's Spring Training or the World Series," Jeter said. "You try to simplify things and slow the game down a little bit. I've been fortunate to play in a lot of playoff games. I think the more you play in these games, the more comfortable you are."
Jeter's 18 homers trail former Yankee Bernie Williams (22) and Manny Ramirez, who has 28 and is in this year's postseason with the Dodgers. Jeter now has 10 homers in the Division Series, 5 in LCS play and three in the World Series. This series marks his 13th ALDS and his 26th postseason series overall. He has played in the ALCS seven times and the World Series six times.
Mantle played from 1951-68 and retired the year before the introduction of divisional play. He accumulated all his postseason experience (65 games' worth) in the World Series. Jackson, who has 77 games of postseason experience, played in one ALDS -- following the strike-shortened 1981 season -- 11 ALCS and five World Series.
Thomas Boorstein is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.