Cleveland Indians starting pitcher David Huff (28) lays on a...

Cleveland Indians starting pitcher David Huff (28) lays on a stretcher while being treated by an EMS worker after being hit with a line drive in the face off the bat of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez (not pictured). (May 29, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

Alex Rodriguez had good reason to smile, beyond the two-run home run that gave the Yankees a 4-1 lead over the Orioles. He was happy and relieved that David Huff started for the Indians in Detroit yesterday.

Huff did not pitch well, which was beside the point. It was a triumph that he made his turn after having taken Rodriguez's wicked line drive to the head. It could have been tragic.

"I'm just very happy about that. He told me he had a good side [session] a few days ago and he was ready to go," Rodriguez said after the Yankees' 6-3 win at the Stadium. "Talking to him, you could tell he's a quality kid."

The two have texted a number of times during the past few days. "To be able to go out and throw without missing a start, it's amazing," Rodriguez said, relieved to be able to grin and say, "It just tells you how weak I am."

Paying tribute to Junior

The retirement Wednesday of Ken Griffey Jr. was a reflective occasion for Rodriguez, who broke in as a teenaged teammate with Griffey in Seattle. "It was something, to be able to come in to the clubhouse every day as an 18-year-old and see our Michael Jordan, our Tiger Woods," he said, adding that Griffey was amazingly calm and prepared. Rodriguez said Griffey could be playing Nintendo at 6:56 p.m., then make a spectacular catch in the top of the first at 7:10.

Rivera hits 95 mph

Mariano Rivera achieved his 12th save and reached the mid-90s on the radar gun. It was a strong outing despite a rocky beginning, as he walked Nick Markakis and hit Ty Wigginton. Then he struck out Luke Scott, got Garrett Atkins on a weak broken-bat grounder and struck out Adam Jones. He was unfazed about hitting 95 mph. "Speed doesn't define how well you're going to do," he said, adding that location is everything . . . Derek Jeter scored the first run on an odd- looking balk. Kevin Millwood seemed to catch a cleat on the mound, stumbled and - in an attempt to avoid a balk - awkwardly bounced a soft two-hopper to the plate.Robinson Cano's multi-hit streak ended at eight consecutive games, although he did extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He's hitting .373. When he was asked how he might pitch to Cano, CC Sabathia said, "I probably wouldn't." . . . Rodriguez, who hit his 591st home run, and Cano are tied for the team RBI lead with 43 exactly one-third of the way through the season.

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