REUTERS - Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui supplied the punch that supported pitcher CC Sabathia in the New York Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the opening game of their AL Division series on Wednesday.
In the NL Division, the Los Angeles Dodgers triumphed 5-3 over the St Louis Cardinals, while World Series champions Philadelphia made a confident start to the postseason with a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies in the other NLDS opener.
The Twins, who arrived in New York at 3 a.m. (0700 GMT) after their thrilling Tuesday night win over Detroit for the AL Central title, struck first with two runs in the third inning.
Yankees captain Jeter wiped out the deficit in the bottom of the third, however, smacking a hanging curve from Twins
rookie Brian Duensing down the left-field line to score the first postseason homer in the new $1.5 billion Yankee Stadium.
"That's Derek Jeter this time of the year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the shortstop, whose round-tripper brought home Melky Cabrera and was the 18th of his postseason career.
Nick Swisher doubled in a run in the fourth, and Alex Rodriguez stroked an RBI single in the fifth just before Matsui's powering homer rattled around in Monument Park behind the wall in dead center to put the game out of reach.
Sabathia yielded two runs, one unearned, in six and two-thirds innings, and gave up only eight hits while striking out eight with no walks.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said his team ran into double-trouble -- Sabathia's pitching and the Yankee lineup.
"Everyone is a stinking All-Star," moaned Gardenhire of the Yankees' star-studded batting order.
The best-of-five series resumes on Friday in the Bronx, where regular season leaders New York (103-59) will try to extend their record this year against Minnesota to 9-0.
DODGERS LEAN ON BULLPEN
The Los Angeles Dodgers faced stiffer resistance against St Louis in a laborious contest that left 30 players on base, an MLB playoff record for a nine-inning game.
Matt Kemp belted a two-run homer in the first, but the Dodgers had to rely on their bullpen to close out the game.
Jeff Weaver was credited with the win, one of five relief pitchers used, after relieving first-time playoff starter Randy Wolf in the fourth.
"Our bullpen is great, they've been doing it all year," Kemp said.
Philadelphia used a mid-game one-two punch to knock out the Rockies, breaking a scoreless tie with two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth.
The fifth-inning damage came on Raul Ibanez's RBI-double and a run-scoring single by Carlos Ruiz off starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
In the next frame, Ryan Howard stroked a run-scoring double, Jayson Werth belted an RBI triple, and a single from Ibanez made it 5-0 -- a daunting lead with Cliff Lee in ominous form.
Colorado finally scored in the ninth, but Lee bowed with a six-hit, complete game win in his first playoff start.
"We hit the ball very good and Cliff pitched a hell of a game," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.