Miles Mikolas gets Derek Jeter, and a win
July, 21, 2014
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com
Adam Hunger/USA TODAY SportsInducing Derek Jeter into an inning-ending double play was the key to Miles Mikolas' win Monday.
NEW YORK -- Miles Mikolas is a 25-year-old kid from Jupiter, Florida.
Derek Jeter is a 40-year-old shortstop headed to the Hall of Fame.
In a game that humbles everyone at some point, it was Mikolas, the Texas Rangers right-hander, handling Jeter, the New York Yankees captain playing in the final three months of his big league career.
The Rangers’ 4-2 victory over the Yankees on Monday night turned in the fifth inning.
The Yankees held a 2-1 lead and loaded the bases with one out when Jeter faced Mikolas.
Jeter gets loud ovations on every at-bat at home, and it didn’t go unnoticed by Mikolas.
“Yeah, he's got some great fans here,” Mikolas said, smiling.
Well, Jeter bounced into a 4-6-3 double play as he smacked a sinker into the ground, silencing the crowd of 45,278.
“Bases loaded, one out, that’s a big situation, big jam to get out of,” Mikolas said. “They’re up on their feet and they’re rooting for him real hard -- it makes me as a pitcher want to compete a little harder and let the fans down.”
After the double play was turned, Rangers infielders Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor high-fived at second base. Mikolas yelled from the mound -- and so did his cheering section, sitting in the upper deck somewhere at Yankee Stadium.
Mikolas had his mom, fiancée, step-dad, future sister-in-law and a few other future or current family members in attendance.
Mikolas might not have heard the yelling, but he could feel the presence.
“That double play was more about that time of the game, baby, we needed a double play,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “I didn’t care who was up there, Babe [Ruth] could have been up there, I wanted a double play.”
Mikolas earned his first career victory as a starter Monday.
He went 7⅓ innings, allowed two runs on four hits and struck out three on 105 pitches. Washington took Mikolas out so he could get Neal Cotts in to face some left-handers.
Cotts had some minor trouble, but everything worked out fine for a change.
The Rangers have been slumping, if you hadn’t noticed, and they need arms like Mikolas to go deep into games and preserve the bullpen.
Mikolas understands the situation and wants to contribute, but hadn’t pitched past the sixth inning in his previous three starts.
His family members saw the schedule and flew from Florida hoping to take advantage of the good weather up north and maybe see Mikolas get his first win of the season.
After that fifth-inning double play, the Rangers responded with three runs in the sixth to take a 4-2 lead, and Mikolas rewarded the hitters with a dominant half of the inning.
Throwing mainly fastballs, Mikolas retired the heart of the Yankees order on ground-ball outs and picked up eight consecutive outs until Washington had seen enough in the eighth inning.
And while the fans left the Bronx with a Jeter figurine, Mikolas and his family headed to the hotel with a victory.
“Everyone says this can be a tough place to pitch and the fans really get behind their team and they’re a little hostile as I’m warming up in the bullpen,” Mikolas said. “I’m a competitive guy and people start rooting against me, it lights a fire and I got to keep that going every start.”