Finishing what he started on this trip, Derek Jeter slammed two home runs Sunday in a four-hit afternoon that helped lift the Yankees to a 12-5 victory over the Rangers in front of a sellout crowd of 48,057 at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Jeter's 4-for-6 performance, which raised his average to .276 -- third highest of any Yankees regular -- for a few days at least should quell what has been a season-long hot topic: whether to drop Jeter in the order.
"Everybody needs a day like this, regardless of if you're swinging well or you're not swinging well," Jeter said. "I told you, I just want to be comfortable and if you're comfortable the hits will come."
The victory, one in which the Yankees (19-13) hit five home runs, allowed them to finish this seven-game trip at 3-4 as they rallied from a 4-0 deficit after two innings. Jeter finished the trip 11-for-28, kick-starting it with two hits Monday in Detroit.
"If you don't get some rewards and you don't reap the benefits every once in a while, this game, it wears on you," hitting coach Kevin Long said of the extra work Jeter has put in.
Jeter's homer to right off starter Dave Bush in the fifth snapped a homerless streak of 259 at-bats and brought the Yankees, who trailed 4-0 after two innings, to 4-3. "The first one's always the hardest one to get, it seems that way, first hit, first home run, first everything," Jeter said. "It feels good to get one but I don't sit around thinking about home runs."
Jeter's shot to right-center off Arthur Rhodes (7.39 career ERA against the Yankees) in the seventh gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead. Jeter came into the game with just three extra-base hits this season.
He wasn't making too much of Sunday's power surge, stressing again his overall comfort at the plate, which has allowed him to hit the ball harder than he has all season.
"I'm not catching Babe Ruth in home runs," Jeter said. "My job is to get on base and score runs. I would love to hit 50 doubles and 20 triples and hit 60 home runs, but it's probably not going to happen. I just want to have good at-bats. If you have good swings and you swing at the right pitches, you're going to hit some balls in the gaps."
Curtis Granderson followed Jeter's second home run with his 11th homer to make it 6-4. Granderson finished the series 5-for-10 with three home runs.
Cervelli's launch to center snapped a stretch of 307 at-bats without a home run and was his first career grand slam.
"I'm close to Alex now," Cervelli joked of Alex Rodriguez, who ranks second on baseball's grand slam list with 22.
The Yankees committed four errors and CC Sabathia was not sharp, allowing four runs (three earned), five hits and four walks in six innings. He improved to 3-2 but spoke, as did most, about Jeter's big day.
"He told me the other day that he was starting to feel good," Sabathia said, "and he showed it."