NEW YORK -- Kenny Rogers was supposed to take a beating timidly yesterday and walk off the field to a chorus of abuse from the Yankee Stadium crowd.
Rogers, the New York starter in Game 1 of the doubleheader with the Orioles yesterday, is frequently knocked for being soft on the mound and even the Yankees wondered about his ability to win big games before signing the free agent last winter.
But after shutting out the Orioles for 5 2/3 innings on just three hits yesterday, Rogers returned to the dugout a hero. He won for the first time in five weeks (a span of five starts) and had reason to feel content and proud of his pennant race effort.
"I've satisfied myself, and I think that's the starting point," Rogers said. "I was relaxed. I felt fine and things worked out fine."
It was a rare moment of relief for Rogers in a tumultuous season. Twice he has been pulled from the starting rotation.
Rogers (11-8, 4.78 ERA) said he was often confused about what was expected of him. Manager Joe Torre also acknowledged a communication breakdown with his starter, although the manager believes his relationship with Rogers is improving.
"It was a very big start for him, but I felt pretty good about it," Torre said. "From the way he's been acting the last 10 days or so, he just seemed to be more relaxed and enjoying himself a little more.
"I expected him to go at it today, I think that's the important thing, is to go after the hitters."
Torre also had concerns about the health of Rogers' arm, but said those fears were alleviated yesterday.
"I thought he was fine," Torre said of his decision to lift him for right-hander Brian Boehringer in the sixth inning. "That was just strictly strategy. I didn't want him facing [Cal] Ripken with two men on base. I knew he was disappointed, but that was my idea from the start."
Any disappointment was short-lived. Rogers was all smiles when speaking with the press between games. He knew he had beaten the Orioles ace, Mike Mussina, and he knew he had shown something to his teammates and manager.
"I think in the first game the Orioles probably felt that having Mussina against me gave them the upper hand," Rogers said. "With Mussina out of the way, I think it gives us a good shot to put them away, hopefully."
Coppinger feeling good
Rocky Coppinger said he feels good and is ready to start tonight's game against Toronto.
Coppinger alerted the Orioles to pain in his forearm after his last few starts, including Sunday's in Detroit. Coppinger has not thrown off a mound since then. He played catch and long toss leading up to today, and the rookie said his arm feels better because of the rest.
"My arm is fine," said Coppinger, a 22-year-old rookie. "There's no question that nothing is wrong with my arm. It feels good for now, but you can't really tell until you throw off a mound."
A record-setting bruise
When Brady Anderson was hit by a David Cone pitch in the third inning of the second game of the doubleheader he set an Orioles record and tied the American League record for left-handed hitters. It was the 21st time Anderson was hit by a pitch this season, passing Bobby Grich's Orioles mark (set in 1974) and equaling Harry Gessler's AL lefty standard, set in 1911.
Ball deal to close Tuesday
Dan Jones, who caught Eddie Murray's 500th home run, has agreed to sell it for $500,000 to Michael Lasky.
The ball will be transported by armored car from a bank safe deposit box Tuesday and exchanged at a news conference at noon.
Boggs, Raines pace opener
A couple of maligned Yankees -- Wade Boggs and Tim Raines -- led their team's charge to victory in the first game yesterday.
Raines spent nearly three months on the disabled list and returned in mid-August to a team that didn't seem to have a place for him. He's been playing more regularly now and had a two-homer game vs. Chicago Monday.
Yesterday, Raines, the leadoff hitter, walked his first two times up, then homered and singled before striking out. Raines scored two runs and drove in another.
Boggs, who hit second in the first game, but has led off 78 times this year, complained openly after the Yankees acquired Charlie Hayes, another third baseman. Boggs recently missed four games with back problems, but went 4-for-4 in the first game with two singles and two doubles.
Incaviglia gets a start
Pete Incaviglia started in left field in the first game of the doubleheader, his first start in a week.
When he was first acquired, Incaviglia homered in his first two at-bats with the Orioles, but he has been used as a pinch hitter lately, while B. J. Surhoff plays left. Johnson gave Surhoff the start in the second game.
"Surhoff's right shoulder is bothering him a little bit," Johnson said. "And he's also had some problems with Rogers."
Incaviglia grounded out his first two times up before hitting a double in the seventh inning. Surhoff replaced Incaviglia in the ninth inning and grounded out to shortstop.
Around the horn
The Orioles planned to give away magnet schedules this weekend, but the 1997 American League schedule has not been finalized. The Yankees honored Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray between games yesterday and presented them with crystal mementos. Ripken was recognized for his consecutive-games streak and Murray for hitting his 500th career homer earlier this month. With Tuesday's rainout forcing the doubleheader, the Yankees had their second sellout of the season and first since Opening Day.
Seeds of belief in Big Apple
A brief sample of what they're saying in New York about the Yankees:
Newspaper: New York Post
Headline: YANKS A LOT, RUBEN
Writer: Jim Salisbury
Text: If [GM] Bob Watson is smart, he'll march right into George Steinbrenner's office this morning and demand the same vote of confidence the Boss gave Joe Torre. Think about it. If Watson hadn't shipped Gerald Williams to the Brewers for wounded Pat Listach, Ruben Rivera would be home today in La Chorrera, Panama, contemplating which fishing hole to drop his line into. Instead, Rivera is dropping a lifeline into a pennant race. In the biggest game of the season last night, Rivera came up with the biggest hit of his life.
Pub Date: 9/20/96