Jeter reaches 3,000 hits, goes 5-for-5
NEW YORK – New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion Saturday, going 5-for-5, including the game-winning hit against the Tampa Bay Rays, as he passed 3,000 hits in his career.
Jeter became the 28th Major League Baseball player and first Yankee to reach the milestone with a home run in the third inning off Tampa Bay left-hander David Price.
Not content with that, he added three more hits and singled home the winning run in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory.
“If I’d tried to write that script and given it to someone, even I wouldn’t have bought it,” Jeter told reporters after the game. “It was a special day.”
Jeter, 37, who has struggled this season and just returned from injury, became the first major league player to reach the mark since Craig Biggio did it with the Houston Astros in June 2007.
He became the fourth youngest player to reach the milestone, behind only Ty Cobb (34), Hank Aaron (36) and Robin Yount (36), and is the 11th member of the esteemed group to have collected all his hits for one team.
“I don’t think you can script it any better. This is already movie-ready,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
“His 3,000th hit is a homer, and 3003 is a game-winner. Jeter was huge for us.”
Even Rays manager Joe Maddon joined in praising Jeter despite his team’s loss.
“It was a great day at the new Yankee Stadium,” Maddon said. “There was a great buzz to this place.”
The Yankee captain entered the game on 2,998 hits and moved within one of the mark with a single leading off the first.
The hard-throwing Price tried to slip a curve past Jeter on a 3-2 pitch in the third, but he cracked a home run into the left-field bleachers to reach the milestone on a glorious summer day in the Bronx.
The smash came with players in both dugouts leaning against railings to watch the at-bat as a packed Yankee Stadium audience stood on their feet and chanted “Der-ek Je-ter.”
When Jeter, not known for his power-hitting, delivered in style with a blast that carried well into the stands in left-center, the stadium erupted in a thunderous roar and a rush of team mates made their way to home plate.
After Jeter touched home, he was first hugged by long-time team mates Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera, who like Jeter have been on five World Series title teams in the pinstripes.
The game was delayed while team mates took turns congratulating him, and the shortstop acknowledged his family in the stands and saluted the fans before returning to the dugout.
It was only the third home run of the season for Jeter, and his first at Yankee Stadium in 286 at-bats, since he connected in a July 2010 game against Kansas City. (Reuters)