The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Derek Jeter’s home finale: Images from last night09.26.14

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Orioles Yankees Baseball

Associated Press photos

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Game 159: Yankees vs. Orioles09.25.14

JETERYANKEES (81-77)
Brett Gardner CF
Derek Jeter SS
Brian McCann C
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Chris Young LF
Stephen Drew 2B
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Jose Pirela DH

RHP Hiroki Kuroda (11-9, 3.77)
Kuroda vs. Orioles

ORIOLES (95-63)
Nick Markakis RF
Alejandro De Aza LF
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz DH
Steve Pearce 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Kelly Johnson 2B
Jimmy Paredes 3B
Caleb Joseph C

RHP Kevin Gausman (7-7, 3.57)
Gausman vs. Yankees

TIME/TV: 7:05 p.m., YES Network

WEATHER: It’s been better.

UMPIRES: HP Adam Hamari, 1B Brian O’Nora, 2B D.J. Reyburn, 3B Jeff Kellogg

MEANINGFUL GAMES: You might have heard that tonight marks the final home game for Derek Jeter. Prior to tonight, of the 2,744 career regular season games he has played in, there has been just one in which the Yankees had already been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention (a 19-8 Yankees win on September 26, 2008 at Boston). This will be his first time playing a meaningless game at home.

THE LAST STAND: Since the start of his final regular season homestand on September 18, Jeter is batting .345 (10-for-29) with four runs, three doubles, one home run and six RBI in seven games.

ON THIS DATE: Seems kind of fitting, it was on September 25, 1917 that former Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto was born in New York City.

UPDATE, 7:09 p.m.: Jeter had to tip his cap during infield warmups because the Jeter chants were so loud.

UPDATE, 7:10 p.m.: Just as the Bleacher Creatures started chanting Jeter’s name for Roll Call, Nick Markakis went deep. Now De Aza has made it two homers in a row. Already the Orioles are up 2-0. Still no outs.

UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: That’s just unbelievable. Jeter’s first at-bat, he missed a home run by a matter of feet. He’ll take the RBI double.

UPDATE, 7:29 p.m.:  Apparently every Yankees player is going to use a song that Jeter has previously used as a walkup song. That’s pretty cool.

UPDATE, 7:58 p.m.: Jeter grounds to short in his second at-bat. This will not be another 5-for-5 day.

UPDATE, 8:18 p.m.: Replay was on Jeter’s side to end the top of the third, but the Yankees couldn’t score in the bottom of the third and so we’re still tied at 2. Also, this story from Steve Politi is cool.

UPDATE, 8:50 p.m.: Jeter goes down swinging in his third at-bat. Yankees haven’t had a hit since that Chris Young infield single in the first.

UPDATE, 9:29 p.m.: Game tied. Bases loaded. One out in the seventh. Here’s Jeter with a great chance to give the Yankees the lead.

UPDATE, 9:31 p.m.: Slow roller to short. Hardy made a bad throw and it will go down as a fielder’s choice with an E-6, but that’s still an RBI. Could easily be the game-winning RBI.

UPDATE, 10:13 p.m.: Oh my. Dave Robertson allows two homers in the ninth, including a two-out, game-tying shot by Steve Pearce. Jeter no longer credited with the game-winning RBI, but due up third here in the bottom of the inning.

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Pregame notes: “Let me play the game first”09.25.14

Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter showed up as his locker briefly. He disappeared through the back door of the clubhouse and returned a few minutes later. It wasn’t particularly unusual — pretty typical pregame back-and-forth, really — except this is his last game at Yankee Stadium, and so there was a playoff-sized packed of media gathered around his locker waiting for Jeter to say … anything, really.

“Afterwards,” Jeter said. “It’s tough for me to start getting emotional and sentimental before I’ve got to play. So let me play the game first. I’ll let you know how I felt about it afterwards.”

Jeter said he’s made no decisions about playing this weekend in Boston. Said he wasn’t sure how many tickets he’d left for friends and family. He said he was thinking mostly about the weather and hoping things would clear up long enough to get the game in.

“I think it’s going to be extremely special,” Joe Girardi said. “Something that obviously he’ll be able to carry with him the rest of his life. I think it’s going to be something that all of us will remember, that we were here tonight; similar to Mo’s last night. That we were at the Stadium the night he played his last game.”

As for a plan, Girardi said he was simply hoping something would occur to him in the moment. If he has a plot in mind — a mid-inning substitution or anything like that — he hasn’t revealed it just yet. But the game means nothing for the Yankees, so Girardi can basically handle Jeter’s final moments however he’d like.

“I’ve been fortunate that I haven’t had to play too many games like this in my career,” Jeter said. “But it is what it is. Our team was not good enough, so we’re out of playoff contention. It’s always difficult. You set your goals and you try to reach something and that goal was unattainable.”

That much Jeter knew when he got to the ballpark today. At some point tonight, the plan is for him find out what it’s like to play one last game at Yankee Stadium.

“My feelings are, I hope the rain stops,” Jeter said. “That’s basically it.”

Hiroki Kuroda• There’s a solid chance Jeter’s not the only one playing his final game at Yankee Stadium tonight. Hiroki Kuroda has the start, and it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll also retire at the end of this season. “No he has not (announced his plans),” Girardi said. “Obviously that’s something he’ll sit down after the season and make the decision. He’s not 29 either, so I’m not sure.”

• Might not be his last game at Yankee Stadium — seems he’ll probably play again next year — but this is almost certainly Ichiro Suzuki’s final game at Yankee Stadium as a member of the Yankees. I actually think it would be cool if Girardi pulled him from the game for a standing ovation at some point. Maybe take out Ichiro with two outs in the eighth and Jeter with two outs in the ninth?

• Thought the Yankees might use these meaningless games to give Bryan Mitchell one more start, but Larry Rothschild said it’s been so long since his last start, that it wouldn’t really be fair to ask Mitchell to try to start again tomorrow or Sunday. The plan is to stick with Capuano, Tanaka and Pineda for the three games in Boston.

• Girardi on the plans for Jeter this weekend: “I don’t have them yet. I’m waiting to meet with him. He’ll be in, I’m sure, fairly shortly. I talked to him (yesterday). Let’s meet today and decide. Tell me what you want to do. Then, when he does, I’ll let him share it. I probably won’t.”

• Here’s Jeter on what he was feeling during Mariano Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium: “I was proud of him. I was happy that I was here. It’s a little different because you don’t know the situation. Mo was getting a massage until 9:30, 9:45, then he goes out there. You have a pretty good idea of when he’s going to come in. I just wanted to be here for him. That’s pretty much it. I was happy for him, I was proud of him that his career was coming to an end. I was just happy to be here for him.”

• Girardi was asked whether he plans to keep anything from tonight’s game. “My lineup cards I keep all the time anyway,” he said. “That’s just what I do because I think it tells a story during the course of a season. Maybe I’ll keep one ball, but it’s the memories more than the mementos that I really want to hold onto. When I think about my time with Derek Jeter, the things he did as a young player, the things he did middle age and as an older player, just being around him. Remembering the 3,000th hit was really special. Those types of things. I remember celebrating in the clubhouse with him. Those are the things that I’m going to remember.”

Associated Press photos

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What they’re saying: Jeter stories from The Journal News and beyond09.25.14

Derek Jeter

As Derek Jeter’s final home game gets even closer, here are a few links from today’s Journal News looking ahead to what will surely be a memorable day in the Bronx.

I wrote about Jeter’s routines, from his at-bat mannerisms to the way he starts each game with a small prayer after the national anthem. Through 20 years, Jeter has become all about familiarity and comfort and consistency. It’s amazing that we’re going to see some of these routines for the final time.

Columnist Phil Reisman wrote about the classic dignity of Jeter’s career, which is clearly rooted in his upbringing. Phil included this great anecdote from Marty Appel, who’s been around baseball and the Yankees for years: Appel recalled that he was with Jeter’s father, Charles, when an admirer told him how wonderful his son was. “His answer was, ‘So is my daughter.’”

Our photo department put together this picture gallery of Jeter throughout the years. Plenty of shots in there you might have never seen.

As you’re well aware, there’s been a lot of Jeter content generated in the past week or so. Here are a few that stood out to me. And believe me, there are many others.

New York Magazine — Derek Jeter Opens the Door
A glimpse into Jeter’s private life, including some pictures from an upcoming photo book full of personal pictures from Jeter’s final season. Notable mostly for the access to Jeter’s day-to-day.

New York Times Magazine — Derek Jeter, a Yankees Before the Pinstripes
Built around a famous scouting report and a previously unpublished photograph, this piece looks at Jeter’s early days coming out of high school and into the Yankees minor league system.

Rochester Democrat & Chronicle — R.D. Long shares memories of living with Derek Jeter
An old friend from my days covering the International League, Jim Mandelaro caught up with Jeter’s roommate from his first full season in the minor leagues. “I learned a lot of things from him,” Jeter said. “He definitely helped me a lot.”

MLB.com — Sterling has provide Jeter a soundtrack
John Sterling doesn’t take games off. The Yankees broadcaster has been in the booth for each and every game of Jeter’s career, and Bryan Hoch talked to Sterling and Suzyn Waldman about their favorite Jeter memories. “He’s never missed a day?” Jeter said. “Wow. That’s pretty good. He’s probably tired of seeing me, too.”

Sports On Earth — Jeter at the Bat
Another good one from Hoch, who talked to Jeter about the only bat model he’s used throughout his professional career. Yesterday, Louisville Slugger announced it was renaming that particular model in honor of Jeter.

WFAN.com — Favorite Derek Jeter Memories From My Years On The Beat
Of all the beat guys, there’s no one Jeter jokes around with more easily or more often than Sweeny Murti. Over on the WFAN website, Sweeny wrote about some of his personal memories of covering The Captain for more than a decade.

The Wall Street Journal — Where Have You Gone, Derek Jeter?
An interesting look at Jeter’s career through the lens of modern media, and the way that Jeter remained a role model despite our ability — and desire — to find the negatives in most of our public figures. Bonus points for the Simon and Garfunkel reference.

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: The impact of Jeter batting second09.24.14

Joe Girardi

After asking for a couple of injury updates, this was the third question of Joe Girardi’s pregame press conference this morning:

Do you feel in any way that the team has been hurt overall with Derek playing shortstop every day and batting second?

“No,” Girardi said. “There’s been so much talk about this during the course of the season, and I’ve said, you look at Derek, he had a slow April. He had a pretty good May, a pretty good June and pretty good July. We had a lot of guys who struggled in August and a lot of guys who struggled in September. A lot of the focus has been on him, because of who he is, obviously, but look at our numbers in September. Look at what a lot of the guys have done. You could move guys around, but you move a guy up who’s hitting .200 to replace a guy who’s hitting .220. There’s been a lot of talk about it. You asked me (jokingly) why I didn’t move him up to third yesterday. Collectively, as a group, we have not hit as much as we thought we would have. And that’s been the bigger issue to me than maybe one guy or a spot in the lineup.”

Girardi went on to discuss the clubhouse as a whole, the idea of not only managing an entire lineup, one through nine, but also managing a room of 25 guys, each with a unique perspective and opinion. Some might have seen favoritism in sticking with Jeter at the top of the order. Others might have seen scapegoating had Jeter been moved down when plenty of guys were struggling.

“People always want to put it in one simple compartment,” Girardi said. “That if you do this, that’s what you do. But there’s a ripple effect for everything you do in the clubhouse. You have to make sure that they’re together, and that you’re not putting the clubhouse in a bad place, and that’s something you do have to manage, and you do talk to players. You talk to them about a lot of different things, and situations. Whether you’re going to move them, or you’re going to give them a day off, or a couple days off. That’s why there’s a lot more that goes into decisions than just the individual player. And I think sometimes people lose sight of that.

Does Girardi think the clubhouse would have responded negatively had he made a lineup change after Jeter’s brutal month of August?

“It could have had a ripple effect, sure,” Girardi said. “I think that any move that you make, whether it’s to Derek or any move that you make, has a chance to affect a clubhouse. And that’s my job to talk to coaches and people that understand the pulse of the club all the time. I’ve been in a clubhouse, and I see what things can happen and how it can really change a clubhouse. Sometimes it can be through a trade, and it really disrupts things. That’s a constant worry about me and the clubhouse.”

Has the Yankees clubhouse responded negatively to Jeter’s treatment this season? Would the clubhouse have responded negatively to Jeter being treated differently? I honestly don’t know. It’s hard to get a sense of the clubhouse with so many new guys and so many hurt players. CC Sabathia is a clear leader in there, and he’s one of the guys who’s played with Jeter the most, but he wasn’t around for much of the season. Carlos Beltran seems to be a respected voice, but he’s new, not always vocal, and he was also not always around because of his own injuries (and his numbers were also a problem). I don’t get the sense that players grew frustrated by Jeter hitting second all year, but I’m also not convinced the players would have been upset to see him moved down in the order.

Ultimately, I think Girardi’s right. The Yankees didn’t have enough guys who did nearly enough offensively, and that was a much larger issue than the treatment of Jeter in his final season.

Jacoby Ellsbury• Carlos Beltran is still not doing much of anything because of his elbow, and Jacoby Ellsbury has not yet begun baseball activities, just a few light exercises in the weight room. Is there enough time for either one to return to the lineup this season? “It’s going to be pretty tough,” Girardi said.

• Girardi said he still hasn’t asked Jeter whether he’ll want to play this weekend in Boston. Might depend on whether the Yankees are eliminated in the next two days. “That’s probably a better question for when we get to Boston,” Girardi said. Jeter said basically the same thing yesterday.

• One more DH day for Jeter. “The one thing that I’ve tried to do is manage Derek the whole year so he’d be as productive as he could be and as good a player as he could be all year,” Girardi said. “That was my focus for him, but that’s my focus for every player. How do I manage them so they’re the most productive throughout the course of a season?”

• This will be Shane Greene’s final start of the season. Pushed into the rotation in July, the rookie sinkerballer has certainly put himself on the map for a possible rotation spot next season. One of the unquestioned bright spots of this season.

• Girardi on whether he’s holding out hope for a playoff spot now that the elimination number is down to one: “I think you always have to hold out hope,” Girardi said. “I know that what’s in front of us is extremely difficult. There’s five games left and we have to win five, and Kansas City has to lose five. That’s pretty difficult. But as long as you have a shot, you keep fighting. And I’ll continue to make moves to keep fighting and then you go from there. You see where you are tomorrow.”

Associated Press photos

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Postgame notes: “Pretty good feeling when he’s up there”09.23.14

Nick Hundley, Derek Jeter

The stage was set, and the crowd here at Yankee Stadium knew it. Tying run on base. Lefty on the mound. Derek Jeter at the plate. It was a chance for farewell heroics, but Zach Britton threw three straight sinkers and Jeter went down swinging to end the game that put the Yankees right on the verge of playoff elimination.

“You’re thinking that he’s going to hit a home run or he’s going to hit a ball in the gap and we’re going to tie the score,” Joe Girardi said. “You see what happens. It didn’t happen, unfortunately, but you have a pretty good feeling when he’s up there.”

Jeter’s gone through a resurgence this home stand, and he had another hit tonight — an infield single — but there was no magic at the end. And the official end could come as early as tomorrow afternoon. The Yankees have been using the phrase “must win” for a while now, but at this point, it’s literally true.

One more Yankees loss — or one more Royals win — will end the Yankees playoff hopes. Even if the Yankees win the rest of their games, it still probably won’t be enough.

“Every game is must win,” Jeter said. “It’s been must win. That’s the approach that we have for a while now. Nothing changes. We must win tomorrow. That’s the way it’s basically been for a while.”

Because of who he is, because of what this home stand represents, there seemed to be an extra level of excitement for that final at-bat. The reporter next to me actually said, as soon as Brett Gardner stepped to the plate with two outs: You just know Gardner’s getting on base so that Jeter has a chance. And it was perfectly true. It really did feel that way. One way or another, it was going to come down to Jeter.

“I’m trying to extend the inning,” Jeter said. “That’s basically it. So he was better than me tonight and I may face him again. … For me, I’m trying to take the approach that I’m trying to play a game. I’ve told you guys, everything that’s happened, the fans have been special this entire year, especially these last few games that we’ve had here in New York. But we’re still trying to win games, so my approach doesn’t change.”

Brandon McCarthy• In what was likely his final start of the year, Brandon McCarthy had his worst outing as a Yankee. He matched his season-high with three home runs, matched his Yankees-high with five earned runs, and 5.1 innings made this his shortest start since the trade. “If that’s the finishing one, then that one kinda sucks,” McCarthy said. “But I’ve thrown well, there’s been a lot of positives. But I felt like, at least tonight, I was able to not let it spiral out of control, when I was still fighting everything. But it’s not one I would like to have this time of year.”

• Although he walked no one, everyone seemed to agree that McCarthy’s biggest issue was command. It stemmed from mechanics that were slightly off, leaving the movement on his pitches unpredictable at times. “It was just a day where I never really felt like I had a feel for what I was doing,” McCarthy said. “Command of the pitches was okay at times, and then other times it let me down a little bit. I couldn’t find any consistent movement, and my sinker flattened out. Larry (Rothschild) talked about this: some of them just stayed straight, some of them were sinking. It was hard to be consistent and do what I wanted to do, and go with a certain plan of attack if you’re not able to execute.”

• Girardi on McCarthy: “It’s the first night maybe he didn’t quite have his command. He’s been really good with his command. He was pulling some sinkers, he left some balls up and got hurt. He missed with a cutter to Kelly Johnson. Of all he starts that he’s had, this was probably the one that he didn’t have his location.”

• Oddly, despite all the home runs and all the hits, McCarthy was able to strikeout eight without a walk. It was the fourth time this season — all with the Yankees — that McCarthy had at least eight strikeouts without a walk. “When he did throw the ball where he wanted to, he got people out,” Girardi said.

• On the whole, McCarthy’s time with the Yankees was pretty impressive, and his personality seems to fit here extremely well. McCarthy’s a free agent, and would seem like a strong target for this team. “I would prefer to be anywhere that I’m wanted,” he said. “But this would be a hard place to turn down.”

Andrew Miller, Brian McCann• Brian McCann has 23 home runs this season, and eight of them have come in the month of September. “I’ve been feeling good for a while,” he said. “Just not missing my pitch. Getting it and finding the barrel.”

• Most home runs McCann has ever hit in a single month was nine during July of 2012. His 23 homers this season are the most by a Yankees player whose primary position is catcher since Jorge Posada hit 23 in 2006.

• Jeter now has a seven-game hitting streak, which is the longest active streak for the Yankees. Despite going just 1-for-5 today, he’s still hitting .400 this home stand. He has two Yankee Stadium games left.

• Ichiro Suzuki is hitting .319 in 47 games since August 1 including .350 in 27 home games in that span.

• The Yankees pitching staff had 11 strikeouts today (11 by McCarthy, two by Betances, one by Robertson) which gave them 1,319 strikeouts for the year. That’s a new single-season franchise record, breaking the mark set in 2012. This was the seventh time this season that the Yankees struck out 10 without walking a batter.

• Yankees relievers have a 1.13 ERA in their past 14 home games.

• McCarthy has reached 200 innings in a season for the first time in his career. He got to exactly 200 before coming out in the sixth. He called it a “tremendous source of pride” to finally reach that number. Not a bad year to get there with free agency coming up.

• Final word to Jeter: “You always have to have confidence. We have confidence up until the game is over with, regardless of the score. You have to have confidence that we’ll come back and play an entire game. Confidence has always been there.”

Associated Press photos

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Pregame notes: “I just need to get stronger from top to bottom”09.23.14

Bud Selig is at Yankee Stadium today, and he’s going to address the media in just a few minutes so I need to head back down to the press conference room in just a few minutes. A few quick pregame notes before I head downstairs.

Yankees Rays Baseball• Mark Teixeira had his latest cortisone injection on Sunday, and he’s back in the lineup tonight. “I’ve gone through all the basic tests, and it seems to have taken,” Teixeira said. “Unless something crazy happens during BP, I should be fine.”

• Teixeira said he usually takes a full month off when the offseason starts. This year, he’s planning to take maybe a week before beginning regular offseason workouts. “Get right back into strengthening,” he said. “My upper body strengthening really didn’t start full time until January (last offseason). Like I’ve told you guys a number of times, I definitely need to get stronger, my whole upper body, but definitely the wrist. … We’re past the rehab point. We need to get into the strengthening point. The strength will help the inflammation stay out of there. Hopefully the little things in my legs that happened this year, I just need to get stronger from top to bottom, but especially the wrist.”

• No baseball activities for either Carlos Beltran or Jacoby Ellsbury today, though Ellsbury will do some light exercises just to see how he responds. Girardi acknowledged that the way he treats those two going forward will likely depend on whether the Yankees stay in the mathematical playoff race. “That’s probably fair to say,” Girardi said. “My guess is, we wouldn’t push it (if the team were eliminated).”

• Is Derek Jeter going to play all three games in Boston this weekend? “My plan is to play him,” Girardi said. “Obviously if things happen and we are eliminated, then obviously I’ll talk to him on a daily basis. My plan is to play him, but I’m going to talk to him and see what he physically needs and what he mentally wants. … My guess is, he’s going to want to play every day.”

• New outfielder Eury Perez is here today. Not in the lineup, but he was in the clubhouse and on the lineup sheet. I assume he’s available off the bench.

• If Masahiro Tanaka is starting Saturday and Michael Pineda is starting Sunday, it seems this will likely be Brandon McCarthy’s final start unless the Yankees advance to a wild card game. He’s been a terrific second-half addition heading into free agency. “For the most part, he has brought out the same stuff almost every game and has gotten deep into games,” Girardi said. “And his sinker has been outstanding. He’s gotten a ton of ground balls. There’s a lot of times when you’ll see guys when they don’t have their A stuff and they have to battle through it, but his stuff has been consistent for the whole time that we’ve had him, for the most part.”

Associated Press photo

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Postgame notes: “Enjoy for the rest of my life”09.22.14

Jose Pirela, Derek Jeter

You know, this was a really good day for the Yankees. It might very well be too little too late, but taken in a vacuum, this was a really good day.

Jose Pirela’s mad-dash triple in his first career at-bat. Michael Pineda flat-out dominant next-to-last start of the year. Derek Jeter’s continued resurgence in his final home stand. Fifth win in six games, and this one coming against a first-place team. There’s a reason the Yankees were smiling a whole lot when this one was finished.

Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki“I am so excited today,” Pirela said. “So I come here, and I’m looking to see if I play. When I see the lineup, I feel so excited. I try to enjoy this moment, enjoy for the rest of my life and play in the big leagues.”

That’s the kid talking. Here’s the soon-to-be-retired icon.

“You continue to play hard and you continue to fight until you’re out of games,” Jeter said. “That’s all you can do. I’m well aware of the situation that we’re in, but the only thing we can control is the games that we’re playing. It was a good win for us today, and we need to come out and win tomorrow.”

I don’t think anyone is really expecting the Yankees to advance to the postseason at this point, but this game was impressive because of Pineda, and it was fun because of Pirela and Jeter. There was something interesting about seeing a guy like Pirela have a debut like this on the same day that Jeter continued to swing the bat so well.

“It’s exciting to watch (Pirela),” Jeter said. “You see how excited he was to get his first hit, then his second hit. It never gets old. We’re all happy for him. He got an opportunity to play and I’m pretty sure he didn’t think he was going to get called up this year. For him to come up and get his first hit, that’s a fun thing to watch.”

As for Jeter, today’s double was the ninth hit during the first five games of this home stand. And the crowd was into his every at-bat.

“I never said I didn’t think I couldn’t play anymore,” Jeter said. “This is the time for me to call it a career after this season. Sometimes things are difficult, sometimes they come a little bit easier. Not easy, but they come a little easier at times. You have to continue to battle. This is a game of adjustments and I’ll continue to make those adjustments until I’m out of games.”

Michael Pineda• Pineda was terrific. One hit and one walk through 7.1 innings. It was the longest scoreless outing of his career, and eight strikeouts was his highest total since September 10, 2011 with Seattle. “I’m very happy for coming back and help my team,” Pineda said. “It’s very important for me to help my team every five days, when I take the mound. And I’m very happy, because I love pitching.”

• When Pineda came to the Yankees, he was mostly a fastball-slider guy with a changeup that needed work. But that changeup has come a long way, and we saw some of them tonight. “Every time I’m feeling more comfortable with my changeup, and I’m happy with that, you know?” Pineda said. “It’s very important. It’s a good pitch for me. Before, I’m not using my changeup. Now, it’s very good for me.”

• First Orioles base runner was a J.J. Hardy single in the fifth inning. It was the furthest into a start that Pineda had ever gone without putting anyone on base.

• Eight starts since coming off the disabled list and Pineda’s walked just four batters while striking out 34. “He really picked up where he left off,” Joe Girardi said. “He was throwing the ball great for us before he got hurt, and he’s just really picked up where he left off. … I think it was important for him to come back and pitch well. He’s done that, and he’s pitched really well. And he’s got another start for us.”

• One other thing to note: It was pretty chilly today, and Pineda got through the start pitching well and without an ejection for using pine tar. That’s not to say that he wasn’t using pine tar, but he’s either found a more acceptable way to use it or learned to pitch without it. “You’ve got to remember, the night that he pitched (in Boston) was miserable,” Girardi said. “I do think it’s important to give him confidence when it’s cooler and it’s windy out. The wind a lot of times is the worst thing for a pitcher when it’s cool. It was windy out there, and I think it was important.”

• In his big league debut, Pirela went 2-for-3 with an energizing RBI triple in his first at-bat. He hadn’t played in about two weeks when the Yankees called him up as a late September addition, so he was given a few days to take batting practice and get ready again, but his debut was awfully memorable. “When I see the outfielder go to get the ball (in the first at-bat), I see that’s a hit,” Pirela said. “I say, I want to hit a homer. I thought the ball is gone but I hit a triple and I enjoy that.”

Jose Pirela• When he got around second base, Pirela was almost running too fast. He nearly stumbled. “I tried to run more fast than I do,” he said. “That’s why I almost, you know, (fell).”

• This was Jeter’s first three-RBI game since September 9, 2012 at Baltimore. Each of his last three games with at least three RBI have come against the Orioles.

• Ichiro Suzuki got his 2,840th career hit, tying Charlie Gehringer for 47th place on MLB’s all-time hit list.

• The Yankees scored more than three runs against Baltimore for the first time since June 20 at Yankee Stadium. They had not scored at least four runs in any of their past 11 games against the Orioles. According to Elias, that was their third-longest such streak against any team since 1920.

• Final word goes to Girardi: “I really believe we have to pretty much win out is pretty much it, but you never know. Strange things happen in sports. We’ve seen it. We’ve seen people that were 10 games back, come back in a month’s time and find a way to get back into the playoffs on the last day. Crazy things happen, and it’s obviously tougher when you’re chasing more than one team, to happen to a lot of teams, but the teams we’re chasing have had their struggles too. And you never know.”

Associated Press photos

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Jeter’s new commercial09.19.14

Derek Jeter

I really liked Derek Jeter’s cap-tipping “RE2PECT” commercial. How could you not?

I still like it better than his new Gatorade commercial. Yet this new one is rather appealing and well done as well.

It doesn’t sound like Jeter just made it to stuff more money in his pockets, that there was a sincere meaning behind the concept of walking down River Avenue to Yankee Stadium and mingling with the fans along the way (to the soundtrack of “My Way” after the fact).

“It was an opportunity, I felt, to thank people, which I’ve been pretty consistent with every time I’ve spoken, how much the fans have meant to me and my entire career,” Jeter said.

Here’s more on the Jeter commercial from my Yankees notebook, which also includes items on Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka.

Also, here’s my story on the beginning of Jeter’s final homestand, which included a solo homer by him in the 3-2 win over the Blue Jays Thursday night.

And here’s my feature story on Chase Headley, including his thoughts on coming back here in 2015 and on the aftermath of getting hit with that 96 mph fastball on his chin last week.

Chad will join you later. Thursday night was my last scheduled game for the season. You’re welcome to join me at Twitter @bheyman99 or check out Lohud.com or The Journal News, if you live in the area. As always, thanks for reading, appreciate it.

Photo by The Associated Press

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

Yankees postgame: Jeter delivers in start to final homestand09.18.14

Derek Jeter

The final regular-season homestand of Derek Jeter’s career began well for the Yankees thanks in part to The Captain, in part to Shane Greene and in part to Adam Lind doing his Bill Buckner impression at first.

Jeter went 2 for 4 in the 3-2 win over the Blue Jays after arriving at 1 for 30. He hit a solo homer to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the sixth, his first home homer since July of last year, snapping a 298 at-bat streak without one here and a 158 at-bat streak without one overall this season, dating to Aug. 1. So he’s up to .250 with four homers and 41 RBI.

“Obviously this year, up until this point, hasn’t turned out how I would like it to,” Jeter said. “But you’ve got to keep fighting. You’ve got to keep battling.”

The Yankees are five games back of Oakland for the second wild card with 10 to play. A rather longshot at this point. So Jeter keeps getting reminded that it’s his last homestand everywhere he turns.

“I’m trying not to think about it being the last homestand,” Jeter said. “We still have a week left. We’re trying to win games. I’m going to go out there and play hard like I’ve always done my entire career until we’re out of games.”

Greene should be back to pitch more games next season. The 25-year-old rookie has allowed three runs or less in 12 of his 14 starts, including no runs and three hits in 6 2/3 in this latest outing. Greene has a 1.06 ERA to show for his last three starts.

“This young man has four pitches he can go to and he has confidence in them, and he has the ability to throw strikes,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s been impressive to me.”

The Yankees won when Chase Headley’s grounder got by Lind for a walk-off error.

“It was a tough play for Adam,” Jeter said, playing defense for him.

Stephen Drew had an RBI double, snapping a career-worst-tying 16 straight games without driving in a run. He went 2 for 3 to lift his average to .163. Somehow I don’t think he’ll be the heir to Jeter’s throne.

Here’s my Lohud.com/Journal News story on Jeter and this first game of the homestand. And here’s my feature story on Headley after speaking to him before the game about possibly returning and about the aftermath of getting hit in the chin last week.

The photo of Jeter’s home-run swing is from The Associated Press.

Posted by: Brian Heyman - Posted in Miscwith Comments Off

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