Rogers gets Yankees off to good start Pitches strong 7 2/3 innings to capture series opener

June 28, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees starter Kenny Rogers knew it was a big game.

The opener of a series with the second-place Orioles, in front of 34,161 fans at Yankee Stadium.

Rogers remained calm, enough, though to give New York 7 2/3 strong innings and pick up his sixth win of the year as the Yankees beat the Orioles, 3-2.

Rogers allowed just seven hits and walked only one. He gave up two runs, but shut the Orioles down when they had runners on second and third and just one out in the seventh inning.

The effort proved something to Yankees manager Joe Torre.

"The one question that he has put to rest is that he can win big ballgames," Torre said. "That was always the question when we signed him. Does he have the stomach to do this and do that? Is he nervous on the mound? With some of the games he has thrown for us lately, he's put those questions to rest. We're in the best position we could be in at this point. That's the kind of outing we needed to start the series."

That's precisely what Rogers was thinking when he took the ball to start the game.

"I knew what it meant to win this game," Rogers said. "This is a big series. when you play the team that's chasing you head-to-head, you want to take the first game. Today, I was in a pretty good groove. I was relaxed. The sinker was a big key for me."

Rogers said his sinker has baffled him all season. Some nights it's on and he's busting hitters on the inside corner. Other nights he gets it up in the strike zone and it's a feast for the opposition.

"My sinker hasn't always been there," Rogers said. "Tonight I felt like it was where I wanted it to be. It's a big pitch for me to get ground balls with. I found the one I was looking for."

Yankees catcher Joe Girardi said Rogers' sinker was the best he'd seen.

"He was just running it in," Girardi said. "That's the best stuff I've ever seen him have since I've been catching him. I've never seen him have a sinker like that."

In spring training Rogers was lost.

Torre didn't think the former Rangers ace was ready to start games for the Yankees, and the the lefty spent some time in the bullpen. Rogers didn't pitch into the seventh inning until his seventh start of the year, and twice in June he's been forced out before the fourth inning.

Rogers is 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA at home and 2-2 with a 5.60 ERA on the road.

He's been brilliant and brutal. It has puzzled Torre.

"Some days he's more aggressive than others," Torre said. "But I have a lot of confidence in him every time I send him out there. It's curious to see what pitcher we'll see from start to start."

Last night, it was the pitcher Torre wanted to see.

Pub Date: 6/28/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.