Mark Whiten, in his second start since being signed from the Mexican League, homered and drove in four runs to lead the Cleveland Indians over the Texas Rangers, 10-3, Saturday at Cleveland.
It was the Indians' third consecutive victory, but whether it will quell the concern expressed about a lack of leadership in the clubhouse is uncertain.
Cleveland had won six games in a row, then lost six before the current streak. That prompted newcomer Travis Fryman to meet with Manager Mike Hargrove on Friday and Saturday to discuss his perception of a leadership problem.
"Last year, we struggled with that most of the year until it finally came together late in the season and we went to the World Series," Hargrove said. "Every team I've ever been on as a player, coach or manager, the players police themselves."
Fryman was quoted Saturday in the Cleveland Plain Dealer as saying Sandy Alomar, Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome and David Justice were candidates to fill leadership roles.
"Last year, there were some good veterans here, such as Orel Hershiser, Matt Williams, Kevin Seitzer and Tony Fernandez," said Fryman, batting .208. "Now that they're gone, it's time for other players to become leaders. But they've never had to do that here, and they're not sure how to go about it."
"We're a very good team, but not a great team. We could be a great team, but we need some maturity and that comes from addressing these things. I want to play on a great team."
Hargrove talked with Fryman for an hour before the game in a meeting they scheduled the day before. The manager said he wasn't offended by the comments and didn't think anybody on the team was.
"I'm a little surprised to see him come out publicly and say it, but it's something we've been talking about around here since spring: about the need for a corps of players or one or two players to start exerting some leadership," Hargrove said. "We have had that, but not on a consistent basis."
Whiten, released by the Yankees after an arrest on a sexual assault complaint that never resulted in a charge, had three hits, and his first major league RBIs in nearly a year came with a two-run single in the first inning. He had an RBI single in the fifth and joined Thome in the seventh for Cleveland's first back-to-back homers of the season.
Whiten's solo shot was his first homer since last June 1 at Boston.
"I think I'm a better hitter now," said Whiten, who tied the major league record with four homers in a game for St. Louis in 1993. "I don't think the four-homer game had any effect on me whatsoever. It's one of those nights that happened. I don't think I could do it again to save my life."
Brian Giles drove in four runs, taking over the team lead with his 10th homer. The three-run shot came in the first at-bat after his game-winning, 14th-inning homer Friday night and capped a five-run first inning against Bobby Witt, whose earned-run average rose to 7.74.
New York 5, Minnesota 2--Shortstop Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a double and three singles for the Yankees, who won at New York to end a losing streak at two games.
Jeter is 11 for 23 in his last five games, with seven runs batted in and seven runs scored, including the first three Saturday against Bob Tewksbury (3-6).
Ramiro Mendoza (3-1) and Mariano Rivera combined on a four-hitter for the Yankees, who won 25 of 28 games before the consecutive losses to Texas and Minnesota.
Mendoza had a perfect game before Marty Cordova's single leading off the fifth inning. Mendoza wound up giving up two runs--one unearned--and four hits in eight innings, and Rivera finished with a perfect ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances.
"He was terrific," Yankee Manager Joe Torre said of Mendoza. "Even the innings we made errors, he got right back to business and got out of it. He's like a knuckleball pitcher, only with a sinker. Here it is--do something with it."
Said Mendoza: "I wanted the complete game, but I don't feel bad about Mariano getting a save for me."
Tewksbury lost his third straight decision, giving up all five runs--four earned--and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Boston 5, Kansas City 0--Steve Avery, only two weeks from what he called a "pitiful" performance in the minor leagues, gave up three hits in pitching five shutout innings for the Red Sox, who had homers from Mo Vaughn and Damon Buford at Boston.
Avery (1-0) stranded runners at second and third in the first two innings but retired 11 batters in a row in one stretch before striking out his final batter, Jose Offerman, with runners at first and third bases and Boston ahead, 3-0.
He was recalled Friday from triple-A Pawtucket, where he was 0-2 with a 5.56 earned-run average in three starts. Rich Garces pitched 2 2/3 innings and Tom Gordon finished for his major league-leading 15th save in 16 chances.
The Royals dropped to 1-5 against Boston and have only 12 runs in those six games while batting .176. They had only three runners in the last seven innings.