Monday, September 15, 2008

Jeter Makes for a Great Day at the Ballpark

With nothing to play for, Derek Jeter brought excitement to the announced paid crowd of 54,279 (it was a lot less) by tying Lou Gehrig's record for hits at Yankee Stadium and the Yankees toppled the Rays again, 8-4.

Jeter needed three hits to tie Gehrig's record after he got three hits in each game of the day-night doubleheader on Saturday. He started things off with a bunt single in the first inning, doubled to right in the second, and homered to right in the fifth off of Rays' prized prospect David Price. The home run brought the crowd, us included, to its feet for a long standing ovation, that culminated with a curtain call from the Captain. Jeter had a chance to break the record in the seventh, but bounced into a double play. He received another large ovation anyway.

Jeter's first inning bunt single followed a bloop lead off single by Johnny Damon. Jason Giambi then worked a long at-bat against Rays starter Edwin Jackson, pulling several deep flies into foul territory in right field. Jackson finally threw ball four on a 3-2 pitch with the runners moving, and quickly fell behind Alex Rodriguez. After laying in a batting practice fastball for a strike, he threw another fat one that A-Rod drilled into the bleachers in right-center field for a grand slam. It put A-Rod at the 100 RBI mark for the 11th straight season, and also put him over 100 runs scored for the 13th consecutive season.

The Rays came right back in the second inning when Columbia University product, and rookie, Fernando Perez took Carl Pavano deep for a 3-run home run. But that's the closest the Rays would get. Giambi blasted a 2-run shot into the upper deck in right in the Yankees half of the second to extended the lead back to 6-3. It was Giambi's 30th home run of the season and gave him 92 RBI.

Jeter's solo pushed the margin back to four when a familiar sight occurred in the top of the sixth inning. With one on, one out, and an 0-1 count on Eric Hinske, Joe Girardi went out to see Pavano, accompanied by assistant trainer Steve Donahue. Pavano left, with what would turn out to be a cramp in his hip, to a chorus of boos, followed by a smattering of applause.

Hinske singled off of Edwar Ramirez and after retiring Gabe Gross, Ramirez walked Perez to load the bases. Girardi brought on Damaso Marte, who continued his inconsistent time in Pinstripes by walking Aki Iwamura to force in a run. Marte escaped further trouble when Brett Gardner made a charging, diving grab of Jason Bartlett's line drive to center field.

Wilson Betemit's RBI single in the eighth made it a non-save situation, so Girardi brought in Jose Veras to start the ninth. But after a walk to Iwamura and a two-out single by Evan Longoria, Girardi called for Mariano Rivera to face Willy Aybar. The switch-hitting DH worked the count to 3-2 before Rivera struck him out swinging to record his 35th save in 36 attempts. The save tied Rivera with Lee Smith for second place o the all-time list with 478.

News and Notes

Robinson Cano was pulled from the game after not showing hustle on a play in the fourth inning. Cliff Floyd ripped a ball to the right side that Jason Giambi dove for and deflected. Cano was on the move to his right and couldn't reach back for the baseball. He then turned and watched it trickle into right field while Floyd hustled it into a double. It was a smart move by Girardi, but one that should have happened much sooner. He could have taken notice of the manager of the pennant contending teamin the other dugout, Joe Maddon, who pulled B.J. Upton out of an important game in August for lack of hustle.
Brett Gardner made another fabulous catch when he ran down and dove to glove, Evan Longoria's fly ball to right-center field in the seventh inning.

Brian Bruney worked a scoreless seventh inning and has a 2.55 ERA in his 17 appearances since returning from the DL.
David Price, the first pick in the 2007 amateur draft, was making his major league debut. To put it simply, the dude throws hard!

The family that caught Derek Jeter's home run ball, got the chance to give it to him in person. They were also rewarded with tickets to next Sunday's home finale and a signed bat. Jeter's former teammates Paul O'Neill and David Cone were part of the YES broadcast team.

Former Yankees catcher Rick Cerone pulled the lever to lower the number of home games to 7.

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