Kansas City, Mo. — Leave it to CC Sabathia and Derek Jeter, a couple of grizzled veterans, to give the New York Yankees an uplifting performance when they need it the most.
Jeter hit a two-run homer to break open a close game, Sabathia went eight innings for the third straight time, and the Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 6-2, on Friday night. They snapped a three-game skid while also taking a bold first step after losing closer Mariano Rivera to injury.
“We lost three in a row. We didn’t finish up the homestand the way we wanted. We had to deal with what we had to deal with yesterday. I thought it was important that we bounce back,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We cashed in four runs with two outs. It was outstanding.”
An encouraging night began with Rivera’s announcement that he plans to return from a torn ACL and meniscus damage in his right knee rather than retire, and it ended when David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth to give Sabathia (4-0) his fourth straight victory.
“CC steps up when we need it,” said Jeter, who singled and scored on Mark Teixeira’s homer in the first before delivering a two-run shot of his own during a four-run seventh inning.
“He likes to be out there,” Jeter said. “He likes to finish games.”
Jeter’s homer off Bruce Chen (0-4) was his fifth of the season, a number he didn’t reach until Sept. 4 last season. He’s batting a robust .404 this year, though he brusquely dismissed any notion that he’s playing above his own expectations.
“They are very good hitters. Right now Jeter is very hot,” Chen said. “I’m not saying he’s not a good hitter, but like right now, he’s on fire and hitting the ball well.”
The Yankees had reason to celebrate when Jeff Francoeur went down swinging for the final out.
Rivera told his teammates prior to the game that he plans to have surgery to repair a torn ACL and damaged meniscus in his right knee. The injury occurred Thursday night when baseball’s career saves leader was shagging fly balls near the warning track during batting practice.