A grin split his face -- and stayed there all the way until he walked out of the clubhouse -- as he joked about how the camera lights made him nervous. He wasn't used to all of this attention, but on Sunday he got it. In the seventh inning, Pirela hit the first big league home run of his career -- a feat he's been thinking about for quite some time now.
"I've been working very hard. I've been waiting for this opportunity because I haven't been playing that much," Pirela said through a translator. "But now that I have the opportunity, I'm really excited that I could contribute and I hope that God allows that I can continue contributing to the team."
Pirela, the Yankees' No. 24 prospect, received some inspiration from teammates Chris Young and Brett Gardner in the fifth inning. Young belted a solo homer to left to tie the game, and then Gardner ripped a three-run shot to right to give the Yankees the lead for good. It was the turning point for the Yankees and starting pitcher CC Sabathia, who surrendered two quick home runs in the first inning.