KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Derek Jeter belted a two-run homer, CC Sabathia went eight innings for the third straight time and the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on an encouraging Friday night.
It began with closer Mariano Rivera's announcement that he plans to return from a devastating knee injury rather than retire, and ended when David Robertson struck out the side in the ninth to give Sabathia (4-0) his fourth straight victory.
Jeter singled and scored on Mark Teixeira's homer in the first inning, and then broke the game open with his fifth homer during a four-run seventh. Jeter hit only six homers all last year, his fifth coming on Sept. 4. He's batting a robust .404 so far this season.
All the damage came against Royals left-hander Bruce Chen (0-4), who has lost four straight after getting saddled with a pair of no decisions to start the year.
The Yankees had reason to celebrate when Jeff Francoeur struck out 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 during batting practice.
"I'm coming back. Write it down in big letters," Rivera said. "I'm not going out like this."
The news appeared to give the Yankees a lift, especially after dropping their third straight game Thursday night. Sabathia was sharp on the mound and the potent New York lineup finally let loose after struggling to put up runs for the better part of a week.
Jeter's leadoff single was his fifth hit in six at-bats in the series, and Teixeira made it hurt when he pounded a 1-1 pitch into the seats overlooking the Royals' bullpen in left field.
Kansas City answered in the bottom half of the first. Alex Gordon followed a base hit by Jarrod Dyson with an RBI double, and Francoeur's two-out double tied the game.
The Royals couldn't have known that's all the offense they would muster.
Sabathia retired 12 straight after a two-out double by Alcides Escobar in the second. Eric Hosmer broke up the streak with a two-out triple in the sixth that hit the wall just over Curtis Granderson's head – about 2 feet shy of clearing the center-field fence.
Francoeur grounded out to end the inning.
Sabathia also left a runner on third in the seventh, when Mike Moustakas doubled leading off and Chris Getz delivered a base hit. Escobar grounded into a double play to end that inning.
Sabathia allowed seven hits and struck out five without issuing a walk.
Chen matched him nearly inning-for-inning until the seventh.
Cano led off with a single, but all the real damage came with two outs. Eduardo Nunez hit a go-ahead triple into the right-field corner, and Chris Stewart followed with an RBI single.
Then the big blow from Jeter, a two-run shot over the center-field wall.
Robertson finished up the game in a non-save situation. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the right-hander would likely get the first chance to save games in place of Rivera, though he did not rule out former Rays closer Rafael Soriano also pitching the ninth.
Notes: The Yankees transferred RHP Michael Pineda to the 60-day DL and optioned RHP D.J. Mitchell to Triple-A. They recalled RHP Cody Eppley from the same squad and signed OF Dewayne Wise to a major league contract. ... Yankees OF Nick Swisher (hamstring) took BP on the field before the game and plans to run bases Saturday. ... Royals RHP Greg Holland (ribcage) will throw BP on Saturday and could leave for a rehab assignment Tuesday. ... RHP Hiroki Kuroda takes the mound Saturday for New York. RHP Felipe Paulino will make his season debut for Kansas City.