ARLINGTON (AP) – Derek Jeter quit thinking about it and just starting trying to hit the ball again. That philosophy is starting to pay off for the New York Yankees and their much-scrutinized leadoff hitter.
Jeter homered twice after going 62 games without a long ball and finished with four hits to raise his batting average 20 points as the Yankees beat the Texas Rangers 12-5 on Sunday, winning two of three in their only regular-season series in the Lone Star State this season.
“Everybody needs a day like this, regardless if you’re swinging well or you’re not swinging well,” Jeter said. “I just want to be comfortable. … It’s pretty difficult to hit when you’re sitting around trying to think of too many things, and I found myself thinking of things early on.”
Under a microscope all season as he started slowly following a 2010 drop-off, the 36-year-old Jeter also had three RBIs and his first stolen base of the year while raising his batting average from .256 to .276.
“He told me the other day he’s starting to feel good and he showed it today,” said CC Sabathia, who got the win despite an erratic outing. “He’s been a good player for a long time. … Sitting on the bench, he had an at-bat and said, `I’m feeling good.’ That’s exciting to hear.”
The results are even better for the Yankees.
Jeter opened the game with a solid single, and there was more to come. He had gone 259 at-bats without a homer since last Aug. 24 before leading off the fifth with a liner that barely cleared the 8-foot wall and landed in the Rangers’ bullpen in right-center.
The captain didn’t wait long for his next homer, leading off the seventh against Arthur Rhodes (1-2) with a deeper shot into the bullpen to break a 4-all tie.
“He looked like the old Derek Jeter,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He swung the bat well. So did Granderson.”
Curtis Granderson, who homered twice in Friday’s 4-1 victory, followed Jeter’s second homer with his AL-leading 11th of the season.
Francisco Cervelli hit a grand slam and Mark Teixeira added two-run shot in the eighth, a six-run outburst off rookie Cody Eppley that began with an umpire’s apparent missed call.
Sabathia (3-2) pitched into the seventh with a season-low two strikeouts while matching a season high with four walks, all of those in the first four innings. The big left-hander gave up five runs, three earned, and five hits while also committing two fielding errors.
The Yankees, who had lost four of five, overcame an early 4-0 deficit to end a stretch of 16 games in 16 days with a 9-7 record. They have a day off Monday before 16 more games in 16 days.
Texas has won consecutive games only once since its 9-1 start, losing 16 of 25 games and seven of eight series. The Rangers won 7-5 Saturday night, after the Yankees overcame a 5-0 deficit to tie that game.
The Yankees cut their deficit to 4-2 when Jeter and Granderson had consecutive RBI singles in the third off spot starter Dave Bush, who was gone after Jeter’s homer in the fifth.
Granderson greeted rookie reliever Ryan Tucker with a single off the right-field wall and later scored the tying run on a groundout by Alex Rodriguez.
Sabathia walked three of the first eight batters he faced, though Texas got started when leadoff hitter Ian Kinsler reached on a throwing error by Rodriguez. The third baseman made a nice stop near the line, but his throw was well over the head of Teixeira at first.
After consecutive one-out walks loaded the bases, Mike Napoli hit a two-run single and David Murphy a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.
Craig Gentry, called up from Triple-A Round Rock when Nelson Cruz was put on the disabled list Saturday, had a leadoff walk in the second and a stolen base before scoring on a single by Elvis Andrus.
“I just wasn’t throwing enough strikes,” Sabathia said. “These guys pick me up a lot.”
The Yankees led 6-5 when Nick Swisher started the eighth with a grounder to Napoli, and the first baseman slid his foot toward the side of the bag. But first base umpire Andy Fletcher ruled that Napoli never touched the bag. Napoli threw his hands up in disbelief and Washington came out for a heated argument.
Television replays appeared to show that Napoli touched the bag, and before Swisher got there.
Jorge Posada and Brett Gardner followed with singles before Cervelli’s first career slam, and first homer in the majors since June 24, 2009. Teixeira later added his ninth homer of the season.
Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba led off the bottom of the eighth with a flyout. He was ejected from the game after he said something to Fletcher on his way back to the dugout after the ball was caught.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Torrealba said. “Obviously, you know what happened, so I don’t want to talk about it.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)