It's far too early in the season to consider Brian Roberts a slugger, and it would be premature to dismiss the New York Yankees as a force in the East.
At this point, however, Roberts is hitting home runs like never before. And, even more surprisingly, the Yankees are in last place.
Roberts's three-run homer off Tom Gordon capped a five-run seventh inning, and the host Baltimore Orioles rallied to beat the slumping Yankees, 7-6, yesterday.
Roberts went 2 for 4 with two walks to raise his batting average to .444. The 5-foot-9-inch second baseman already has five home runs (in 11 games), matching his career high and eclipsing the four he hit last season in 159 games.
"It's something that won't last, I'm sure, but crazy things happen in this game every year, especially when you play 162 games," Roberts said. "It's one of those fluke things, I guess."
Sort of like the Yankees losing three straight and five of six to fall to 4-7, their worst record after 11 games since an identical start in 1991.
"We'll get it turned around. We just have to keep working hard," manager Joe Torre said. "Evidently, we still have to do more work until we get to where we want to be."
This loss hurt a little bit more than the six that preceded it because the Yankees thought they had it won after going up, 6-2, in the seventh.
"They all stink," Torre said, "but we felt that this game was ours, and the people we had coming into the game, we felt pretty good about it."
The Orioles trailed, 6-2, before sending eight batters to the plate in the seventh. After Javy Lopez and Jay Gibbons hit RBI singles off Tanyon Sturtze, Roberts sent a 2-and-1 pitch from Gordon (0-2) over the right-field scoreboard to give Baltimore its first lead.
Steve Kline (2-1) pitched one scoreless inning, and B.J. Ryan got four outs for his second save. Gary Sheffield homered, drove in three runs, and scored twice for the Yankees, who stranded 12 runners and were outhit, 13-8.
Twins 6, Indians 4 -- Lew Ford and Torii Hunter each hit three-run homers to help visiting Minnesota to its sixth straight win. Dave Gassner (1-0) worked six strong innings to become the first Twins pitcher to win his major league debut since Eric Milton beat Kansas City April 5, 1998.
Terry Mulholland pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief, giving up a two-run homer to Ryan Ludwick in the ninth. Joe Nathan got one out for his fourth save.
Ford connected off Kevin Millwood (0-2) with two outs in the sixth inning for a 3-2 lead. Hunter hit a three-run shot with none out in the eighth to make it 6-2.
Gassner allowed three hits and two runs. The lefthander walked one and struck out one.
The 26-year-old was recalled April 9 from Triple A Rochester. Jose Hernandez, who went 3 for 4, put Cleveland ahead with a two-run homer in the second inning, but the Indians lost for the fourth time in five games.Blue Jays 8, Rangers 0 -- Toronto rookie Gustavo Chacin pitched eight shutout innings and Reed Johnson was hit by a record-tying three pitches -- two with the bases loaded -- in the Blue Jays' victory over host Texas. Chacin (3-0) allowed two hits, walked two, and hit a batter in his fifth major league start to help the Blue Jays win for the sixth time in eight games.
Johnson was hit by a pitch in the third, sixth, and eighth innings, with the last two driving in runs. He set a franchise record and tied the major league mark, last set by current teammate Corey Koskie July 27, 2004, while he was with the Minnesota Twins.
Chacin, a native of Venezuela, had three strikeouts and helped the Blue Jays pitch their first shutout since a 7-0 win against the Yankees Oct. 1. Chacin has allowed three runs in 19 innings this season.
White Sox 2, Mariners 1 -- Mark Buehrle pitched a three-hitter and struck out 12, and Paul Konerko hit a pair of home runs to lead host Chicago. Buerhle (2-1) lost his shutout bid in the ninth inning when Ichiro Suzuki tripled and scored on Adrian Beltre's ground out to first. Suzuki had all three Mariners hits.
Buehrle outdueled Ryan Franklin for the 16th complete game of his career and gave the White Sox their eighth straight victory over the Mariners, a streak that started last July 9.
Franklin (1-1) allowed two runs and four hits over eight innings. He struck out three without walking a batter.
After Suzuki opened the game with a single, Buehrle retired the next 11 hitters before walking Bret Boone with two outs in the fourth.
Athletics 1, Angels 0 -- After Rich Harden and Jarrod Washburn dueled through eight scoreless innings, Nick Swisher scored from first base on reliever Scot Shields's throwing error in the 10th inning of Oakland's victory over visiting Los Angeles. The A's hadn't scored in 14 innings before their extra-inning rally against Shields (2-1), who threw just six pitches.
Swisher led off the 10th with a single, and Shields bobbled Marco Scutaro's sacrifice -- and then made a bouncing throw past Chone Figgins covering first base. Swisher slid headfirst into home plate, ahead of Vladimir Guerrero's throw from right field.
Tigers 7, Royals 1 -- Jeremy Bonderman rebounded from a rough start last week to shut down host Kansas City for eight innings and help Detroit snap a five-game losing streak. Bonderman (2-1) allowed six hits and a run six days after giving up six runs on five hits in the first inning of a loss to the Indians. The Tigers won their first road game in five attempts this season, while the Royals dropped to 1-4 at home.