Derek Jeter ties Lou Gehrig in career hits
The player known for loathing attention for individual accomplishment almost as much as losing was nearly forced to endure both last night before a longtime teammate bailed him out.
Well, at least from one of those indignities.
Emerging from his longest hitless skid of the season, Jeter had three hits last night, allowing him to tie Lou Gehrig's franchise record.
The tying hit came with two outs in the seventh as Jeter sliced Jeff Niemann's first pitch down the right field line for a single, giving both legends 2,721 hits.
"It means a lot," Jeter said of sharing the hits mountaintop, for the moment, with Gehrig. "It's what he stood for, being a captain. He's probably one of the classiest people that's ever played the game and to be alongside him, at least for a day in pretty much anything you do, to have your name next to his is quite an accomplishment."
As Jeter stood on the bag at first, the Stadium crowd of 45,848, which included his parents, gave him a sustained ovation, complete with flashbulbs popping, that lasted nearly 1 ½ minutes.
Jeter doffed his batting helmet twice during the ovation and waved it to the crowd, at one point in the direction of the private suite where his parents sat. Most of the Rays stood on the top step of their dugout and applauded an achievement manager Joe Girardi called "mind-boggling."
"I've had a tough time in my career enjoying things as they happen because I'm always trying to look to the next game," Jeter said. "I didn't want to go in there with any preconceived notions of what may happen, I just wanted to enjoy the moment and I think it was more than you probably could have imagined."
The Yankees trailed by two at the time but Jorge Posada made sure that didn't hold up as he hit a pinch-hit three-run home run off Grant Balfour in the eighth inning that lifted the Yankees to a 4-2 victory. The Yankees trailed 2-0 going into the eighth with Posada's homer helping them to their 45th come-from-behind victory.
"All the players that have come through here, he's going to be the only one to get 3,000 hits," Posada said. "That shows you he's a pretty special guy."
Jeter ended his worst slump of the season, 0-for-12, in the first inning, bunting Niemann's first pitch, a fastball bit high and outside, past the pitcher to the third base side for a hit.
Jeter said he didn't think about bunting until he saw Rays third baseman Evan Longoria playing so far back.
After grounding out in the third, Jeter lofted a double over the head of Rays center fielder B.J. Upton in the fifth to pulling within one of Gehrig. Jeter had a chance to set the record in the four-run eighth but Balfour walked him.
"Now I wish we were playing ," Jeter said.
Instead he, and his teammates, will have the day off, one that will presumably feature a little less pressure than what Jeter felt since the start of this 10-game homestand Monday.
"I'd be lying to you if I said I wasn't thinking about it," Jeter said with a smile. "Pretty much everywhere I've gone this entire homestand, I've been hearing it on the streets, in cabs, at the stadium when are you going to get a hit, when are you going to get a hit? I kept telling them, I'm trying. But it's something, without question I'll remember this day."