The Jeter Watch-Sunday, September 21, 2014
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22- As MLB nears the end of regular season play, the interest in Derek Jeter increases. The Gatorade commercial released this week has gone viral on the Internet. Yankee Stadium was sold out for the second straight day on Sunday afternoon as a crowd of 48,144 filled the ballpark. Merchandise with Jeter’s name or likeness and signs that salute the Yankee captain were seen in every section of the stadium.
Jeter was in the designated hitter slot on Sunday, so the fans could only see him out of the dugout in his four times at bat and twice on base. Before Jeter stepped into the batting box, the chant of his name was echoed throughout the park. Once he was ready to bat, he received repeated standing ovations from the fans. While standing, thousands readied their phones to record a photo of one of his final at bats.
In the first inning, the cheers were loud when Jeter’s bat connected with the ball, but the baseball was caught by Anthony Gose in centerfield.
To even more fan disappointment, Jeter struck out on a foul tip with a 2-2 count in the third.
The crowd saw what it was waiting for in the fifth as Jeter cracked a 0-2 pitch into right for a single. The hit increased his consecutive game hitting streak to five. The pitch ended another streak as Toronto starter Drew Hutchinson was removed after 4+ innings. In the previous 26 games, each Toronto starter lasted at least 6 innings. The 26 games were the most since Mariners’ pitchers threw 27 such consecutive games. Jeter advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground ball out, but did not score.
In the seventh, with Brett Gardner, who blasted the 15,000 home run in Yankee history two innings earlier, on second, Jeter smashed a double down the left field line to drive in Gardner and give the Yankees a 3-1 advantage. The excited fans responded with a vociferous standing ovation. After the game, Yankee manager Joe Girardi commented, “That’s a huge hit in that situation.”
The hit also gave the 40 year-old his fourth consecutive multi-hit game, a feat that tied his season high. Girardi, asked about his recent strong hitting remarked, “He’s hitting the ball with more authority. He’s swinging the bat extremely well since I gave him that day off in Tampa.” The manager acknowledged that the nearness of the end of his career could also be a motivating factor to the Yankee icon.
Jeter then stole third base, his 10th stolen base of the season. Jeter, who has compiled 358 steals in his career, was asked about why he attempted it as if it was something he never previously did. He replied, “It was an opportunity. I thought I had a chance to make it and I went.”
Jeter scored when the next batter, Brian McCann, hit his second homer of the game, which accounted for the last runs of a 5-2 Yankee win.
Jeter was asked about the almost unprecedented fan support he has recently received. He responded jocularly, “It’s fun. It’s a lot better when they’re cheering for you.” He also reminded the reporter that the fans have always been supportive of him. That remark is something he has made repeatedly over the years.