New York (78-62) at Kansas City (62-77)

Cloudy Currently: Kansas City, MO
Temp: 70° F
  • Game info: 8:10 pm EDT Fri Sep 7, 2007
  • TV: YES, RTN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

One way for a baseball player to rest a sore ankle is to take the day off. Another way is to spend the night trotting instead of running.

Alex Rodriguez opted for the latter on Wednesday, hitting two home runs to lead the New York Yankees to a series win over their closest competitor in the AL wild card race.

On Friday night, he’ll try to continue his hot hitting against a team New York has dominated as the Yankees open a three-game road series against the Kansas City Royals.

Rodriguez injured his ankle in a collision at third base on Tuesday. He was taken to a hospital for an MRI exam Wednesday afternoon, but returned in time for the finale of a three-game series against Seattle at Yankee Stadium. He convinced manager Joe Torre to put him in the starting lineup, then hit two home runs in the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 10-2 victory.

Rodriguez’s big night helped New York (78-62) extend its wild-card lead over Seattle to three games with 22 games left on the Yankees’ schedule. Detroit also won Thursday to pull into a second-place tie with Seattle.

“There’s not much time left,” Rodriguez told the Yankees’ official Web site. “I guarantee you that if it was April or May, I probably would have taken a day, no question. Every game is so important.”

Rodriguez became the fourth Yankee to hit two homers in one inning, joining Joe DiMaggio (June 24, 1936), Joe Pepitone (May 23, 1962) and Cliff Johnson (June 30, 1977). He also tied Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews for 17th all-time with 512 homers. He leads the majors with 48 home runs and 134 RBIs this year.

“I can’t relate to it,” shortstop Derek Jeter said. “It’s unbelievable. I haven’t seen anything like it in all my years playing.”

The Yankees hope to carry the momentum from Wednesday’s win to Kansas City, where they’ve won three of four games this year. They have outscored the Royals 56-28 in winning six of seven overall matchups in the season series.

Kansas City (62-77) has lost four of its last six, including back-to-back one-run defeats against Texas. The Royals managed only six hits in a 3-2 loss on Wednesday.

“You can’t show up for 150 games, you’ve got to show up for 162,” said Royals manager Buddy Bell, who will step down at the end of the season. “If you don’t show up for 162, you’re going to get hammered. That’s what happened to us the last two nights.

“We had no energy. I don’t understand how you can do that and that’s my responsibility. You’ve got to care more than that.”

Kansas City starter Gil Meche (7-12, 3.85 ERA) will try to snap the longest losing streak of his career. Since beating Detroit on July 20, Meche has gone 0-6 despite delivering four quality starts in eight outings.

The right-hander held Minnesota to three runs in seven innings on Friday, but got charged with the 5-0 loss.

Meche’s skid started with a 7-1 loss to the Yankees on July 25, when he yielded five runs in 7 1-3 innings. He also gave up six runs in four innings during an 8-5 loss to the Yankees on Aug. 5, falling to 3-4 with a 4.80 ERA in 11 career starts versus New York.

Rodriguez is 10-for-26 (.385) with four homers and four doubles in his career against Meche.

The Yankees will turn to Ian Kennedy (1-0, 1.29), who will try to duplicate the success of his major league debut. The 22-year-old right-hander, called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to take Mike Mussina’s spot in the rotation, held Tampa Bay to one earned run and five hits while striking out six in seven innings on Saturday as the Yankees won 9-6.

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Starting Pitchers

I. Kennedy SD vs. G. Meche KC
1-0 Record 9-13
1.89 ERA 3.67
15 K 156
9 BB 62
1.16 WHIP 1.30

Scoreboard

Friday, Sep 7