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Derek Jeter's game-winner worth the wait for Core Four

Derek Jeter of the Yankees has a moment

Derek Jeter of the Yankees has a moment after a game against the Baltimore Orioles with former teammates Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014. Credit: Jim McIsaac

They were standing side by side in the tunnel leading to the Yankees dugout, waiting for Derek Jeter. A reception line of Yankees legends.

They waited a little longer.

Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez and Joe Torre were waiting for the Yankees to close out Jeter's final home game in the top of the ninth last night. They then would join the retiring Yankees captain on the field.

But the Orioles tied it on a pair of home runs off David Robertson. Jeter's former teammates and former manager knew what was going to happen next, though.

"I knew he was going to end up winning it," Pettitte said. "It would be the perfect ending."

Jeter was due to bat third in the bottom of the ninth. With rookie pinch runner Antoan Richardson on second base, Jeter lined the first pitch from Evan Meek into rightfield for the walk-off single as the Yankees beat the Orioles, 6-5.

"What a great ending," Pettitte said. "He's a special player. He does special things like that. It's pretty cool."

As Jeter raised his arms in triumph and celebrated with teammates on the infield, his former teammates and former manager waited a little longer. When the celebrating died down, Jeter embraced each man.

"Amazing," Martinez said. "I'm sure everybody said throughout the day, 'Wouldn't it be great if Derek Jeter got the game-winning hit?' For that to really happen? The chances of him being up to end the game are slim and none. And just totally amazing. Just sums up his whole career."

Everyone thought Jeter's final Yankee Stadium at-bat had come in the seventh inning, when he hit a slow roller to short with the bases loaded in a 2-2 game. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy -- a potential Jeter replacement next season -- tried for the forceout at second but threw the ball into rightfield for an error as two runs scored.

Jeter picked up the go-ahead RBI on the fielder's choice. So the go-ahead RBI in his last home game still looked like a pretty good storyline with the Yankees leading 5-2 going into the ninth and the legends waiting in the dugout.

But Robertson allowed a two-run homer to Adam Jones and a solo shot to former Yankee Steve Pearce to tie it at 5. And give Jeter another chance.

"We said, 'This is going to end just how you thought it was going to end,' '' Martinez said. "And sure enough, it happened. He's amazing. For him to be up in that situation . . . you couldn't write a better script."

Pettitte was happy to have been there because he missed the official Derek Jeter Day on Sept. 7. He had to go elk hunting with his son.

"It was a trip I had planned two years ago and they called me a month before Derek Jeter Day and say, 'Hey, we're having Derek Jeter Day,' '' Pettitte said. "I'm like, 'You've got to be kidding me, man.' "

So Pettitte didn't come until last night. Turns out it was worth the wait.

New York Sports