Yankees 7, Rangers 6
Staked to a four-run lead, Rogers allowed five home runs, and Sheffield’s second of the game propelled the Yankees over the Texas Rangers 7-6 Friday night. With its 10th win in 11 games, New York opened a season-high 3 1/2 -game lead over Boston in the AL East.
“The sky’s the limit for this team,” Sheffield said. “We’re starting to hit our stride.”
Derek Jeter left in the fourth inning with a tight left groin, and Yankees manager Joe Torre said his captain probably wouldn’t play again until Tuesday. Jeter’s bat was hardly missed, and his replacement at shortstop, Enrique Wilson, made two sparkling plays, including one that preserved the lead in the seventh inning.
“Hopefully, it’s just a couple of days,” Torre said.
Rogers, at 8-2 off to the best start of his career, resembled the struggling starter booed out of the Bronx in 1997 after two shaky seasons with the Yankees. He allowed home runs to four of his final seven batters.
“Five homers—quality pitching,” Rogers said sarcastically.
Bernie Williams hit a two-run homer in the third, and Wilson, Rodriguez and Sheffield hit solo shots in the fourth. When Hideki Matsui hit another homer leading off the fifth, Texas manager Buck Showalter ran to the mound to take out Rogers, given a mix of boos and cheers when he walked off.
Rogers is 0-7 with a 9.21 ERA in 11 starts against the Yankees since August 1993 after beginning his career 5-0 against them.
“I’d like to beat them before I die,” Rogers said, “hang around long enough to get them once.”
Former-Ranger Kevin Brown (7-1) wasn’t much better, falling behind 4-0 in the third on Soriano’s opposite-field homer to right and Mark Teixeira’s solo shot, then failing to hold a 6-4 lead in the sixth. Brown bounced a pair of pitches before a run-scoring passed ball by Jorge Posada and gave up an infield single by Eric Young on a shot off the drawn-in Rodriguez at third.
Sheffield put the Yankees back ahead in the bottom half with a solo shot off Jay Powell (1-1). It was Sheffield’s 28th multihomer game, his first for New York, and it gave the Yankees their 16th six-homer game, only their fourth at Yankee Stadium.
Because he had the stomach flu, Sheffield told Torre before the game that he couldn’t play the outfield, and the manager moved him to designated hitter. Sheffield felt dizzy when running but was locked in at the plate, so much so that Torre said he looked “like somebody possessed.”
Sheffield, among several Yankees who started slowly, was congratulated by special adviser Reggie Jackson.
“A little late, but you finally got here,” the Hall of Famer said.
New York has scored five or more runs in 11 consecutive games for the first time since doing it in 15 straight in 1985. New York also has won five times when trailing by four or more runs after not doing it at all last year.
Rodriguez was impressed with the power display.
“It’s not like we were in a band box,” he said.
Soriano came up to the Yankees in 1999 and quickly became a star, then was dealt to Texas in February for Rodriguez. He got off to a fast start with the Rangers and is the leading vote-getter in balloting for next month’s All-Star game.
When he batted in the first inning, he was given a standing ovation as he walked to the plate. And when he went to second base in the bottom of the inning, the Bleacher Creatures chanted his name until Soriano raised his arm in acknowledgment.
“They know what I did here the last three years,” he said.
Wilson, splitting time with Miguel Cairo as Soriano’s replacement at second base, shifted over to shortstop when Jeter got hurt. He went behind the second-base bag to get Michael Young’s grounder and threw him out leading off the fifth.
Then, with runners at first and second in the seventh, he ranged to the second base side and made an off-balance throw to retire Brad Fullmer for the third out of the inning.
“That,” Torre said, “was huge.”
Rogers became the third pitcher to allow five homers in a game this season, joining Arizona’s Casey Daigle (April 9 against St. Louis) and Florida’s Darren Oliver (April 27 at Colorado). The five homers allowed tied the Texas record, accomplished previously by Charlie Hough (1989), Rick Helling (2000) and Rob Bell (2001). … Jose Contreras’ next turn in the New York rotation will be skipped so he can work on mechanics, and he won’t start against until June 12 against San Diego. … 1B Jason Giambi’s right ankle hashealed and he will be activated before Sunday’s game.