NEW YORK -- There will be at least one more curtain call for Derek Jeter, and that will come when the curtains close on the Yankee Stadium portion of Jeter's career in the Yankees' final home game next Thursday night.
But there was an occasion for another on this Thursday night, not a ceremonial one but a real one, an old-fashioned bound out of the dugout and wave your hat at a stadium full of cheering people type of curtain call because you've just done something really good.
Jeter did something really good, and really rare, in the sixth inning of Thursday night's 3-2 Yankees win over the Toronto Blue Jays, which became a walk-off win because Jays slugger Jose Bautista saw Jeter's solo blast and raised it with a two-run shot to tie the game off reliever Shawn Kelley in the eighth.
What he did, and what they saw, was hit very likely the last home run he will ever hit, at Yankee Stadium or anywhere. Considering how rarely he hits the ball out of any ballpark -- that was just his fourth home run of the season and first in 158 at-bats -- and how long it has been since he hit one out of Yankee Stadium (he last hit one in his home park on July 28, 2013, a stretch of 298 at-bats), the sight of Jeter lining a rare R.A. Dickey fastball deep into the lower left-field seats was a mental snapshot to be preserved by everyone who happened to be there to see it.
And if any accomplishment on a baseball field called for a curtain call, that was it.
But Jeter, in a most Jeter-like gesture, passed up the opportunity to bask in the glory of the moment, preferring instead to try to build on it.
“I heard 'em cheering," Jeter said. "But [Brian McCann] was in the middle of his at-bat, so I don’t want to distract anyone that’s hitting at the time."
So while Jeter was clearly happy with his home run -- he bumped every fist in the dugout with the smile and gusto of a rookie, and in a nice gesture, Brett Gardner slipped behind him and removed the batting helmet from his head and tucked it into its cubbyhole -- he had no interest in detracting from the business at hand.
McCann hit the first pitch he saw on the ground for the second out of the inning, deflating the crowd and defusing the moment. Still, at that point in the game, Jeter thought McCann's at-bat every bit as important, if not more so, than his. The home run gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead, but there were still three-plus innings left to play, and runs to be tacked on.
“Hey, it’s another game," he said. "I’m trying not to think about it being the last homestand. We still have a week left. We’re trying to win games and I’m going to go out there and play hard like I’ve always done my entire career until we’re out of games."
Even as the days wind down on his fabulous career, Jeter is still playing in the moment, looking neither ahead nor backward, still treating every game as if it were his first in the big leagues, or the last of a World Series.
Despite the Yankees lagging badly in the race for the second AL wild-card spot, otherwise known as winning the privilege of traveling across the country to get beaten by a better team in a one-game playoff, Jeter still comes to the park outwardly brimming with optimism.
On the afternoon of the first game of his final homestand in the Bronx, Jeter played his daily game in the infield during batting practice, in which he calls out situations to the other Yankees infielders, and then plays official scorer, deciding if the ensuing play was a hit, out or error.
And when he stepped into the cage, he challenged the other players in his batting practice group to their daily game of "total bases," in which the player who runs up the most bases in five swings is the winner. It is a game Jeter rarely wins because it requires hitting the ball into the seats.
That is, until the real game starts.
"It’s a privilege for everybody in this clubhouse to be around that," said Chase Headley, who eventually won the game for the Yankees when his hot grounder got past Adam Lind in the bottom of the ninth, scoring pinch runner Antoan Richardson from third. "Personally, for me, to be able to spend the last two months of his career with him, it’s been neat. To get to know him, to watch him do his thing, you’re not surprised when he does things like that.”
In fact, it had been an odd night for Jeter up until the home run. He had reached on an infield hit in the first inning, when Jose Reyes had trouble getting the handle on his routine grounder to the hole, and he had been slightly embarrassed in the same inning when he half-heartedly took off on a 3-2 pitch to McCann with two out, thinking he had just seen ball four. But plate umpire Jeff Nelson punched McCann out, and Jeter was left hanging, easily thrown out without a slide to complete an inning-ending double play.
But that had been long forgotten by the time Dickey, who lives by his knuckleball, tried to sneak a 3-1 "fastball," clocked at 82 mph, past Jeter, only to see the ball rocket into the seats to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. The shot was an eye-opener coming from a player who has had so much trouble hitting the ball with authority this season that he ranks 149th out of 150 major league players in slugging percentage (.303).
But it was hardly surprising to those who have watched Jeter on a daily basis for most of his 20 big league seasons that in the final days of his career, with the eyes of the baseball world on him, he would come up with one more big moment. At least.
"He just has the ability to do that," manager Joe Girardi said. "I've always said, he’s the guy you want up with the game on the line, in big situations. He’s always had that ability."
To Jeter, of course, it wasn't a particularly big moment, just another moment in a career that has been filled with them, and, he hopes, still has a few more left to be played out.
There's still time for the ceremonial, lifetime achievement award curtain call that is sure to come six days from now. But in the meantime, Jeter is not interested in taking real-life curtain calls, even for moments that would have lesser players bounding up the dugout steps without prompting.
"I’m happy because we won the game," he said. "I can’t worry about what I’ve done up to this point. I’m just trying to have one last homestand here and I’m going to try to play as hard as I can, like I always do, and hopefully there’ll be a few good games left in us."
And maybe even more than one more curtain call for Jeter.
Greene averaged 93.6 mph, his second-fastest average fastball velocity in a start this season, which included his fastest pitch of the season, one that reached 96 mph on the Yankee Stadium radar gun.
Greene’s hard-hit rate (how often batted balls are rated as hard-hit by video review) is 13.7 percent, the second-best of anyone who has made at least 10 starts with the Yankees this season (Chris Capuano leads at 13.6 percent).
On Thursday, Greene pitched a smart game. He limited the Blue Jays to only three balls rated hard-hit, a line-drive out by Reyes and two ground-ball singles. He won by keeping the ball on the outer half of the plate, recording 14 outs with pitches to that area (matching his second-highest total this season).
He has prevented Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion from doing damage against him by pitching them carefully. They are 0-for-7 with two walks against him this season, including 0-for-4 with two walks (one of which was promptly erased by a double play).
In fact, it is one of Greene’s most appealing qualities that he has handled middle of the order hitters fearlessly.
The 3-4-5 spots in the lineup are hitting only .204 (albeit with four home runs) in 103 at-bats, with 30 strikeouts and 10 walks against him this season.
What’s also appealing about Greene is that his strikeout, walk and fly ball combination matches that of a pitcher with an ERA right in his vicinity (his xFIP, a sabermetric stat that combines those numbers to estimate an ERA, is 3.37).
That’s indicative of the idea that his numbers this season are legit and not a fluke. Games like this show that to be so.
Chase Headley's hot grounder scootered through the glove of Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind, scoring pinch-runner Antoan Richardson from third, and the Yankees salvaged a 3-2 win over Toronto, their eighth walk-off win of the season.
But the Gatorade bath was tempered by the knowledge that once again, the Yankees wasted an excellent start, and a rare home run by Derek Jeter, which would have made a nice story to kick off the final homestand of his career.
Second-guesses galore in this one, but none more important than why Joe Girardi wasted his most reliable reliever to get only one out in the seventh, and turn the game over to one of his least reliable relievers in the eighth?
Bats off to Joey: Just four outs from victory, the Yankees blew their 2-0 lead when Jose Bautista crushed Shawn Kelley's 0-2 fastball into the left-field seats with Jose Reyes (two-out single) aboard. Joey Bats' 33rd aboard silenced an already quiet ballpark, which began rapidly emptying from an already inflated announced attendance of 34,279.
A crying Shane: Another outstanding start by Shane Greene, who went two outs into the seventh inning, giving up only three hits (one an infield hit) and a walk, and struck out six. A high pitch count (105) caused Girardi to come get him with two runners on in the seventh, but he escaped damage when Dellin Betances got pinch-hitter Dioner Navarro, noted Yankee killer, to fly out harmlessly to right. Still, his effort went unrewarded when Bautista homered to tie the score in the eighth, prompting the question of why Girardi wasted Betances for one out and only four pitches?
Capt. Cru2h: Jeter had only one hit in his previous 32 at-bats, just three hits in 19 career at-bats off R.A. Dickey, and no home runs since Aug. 1, when he jumped all over a rare Dickey fastball, clocked at 82 mph, and lined it into the left-field seats in the sixth to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. It had been 158 at-bats between homers for Jeter.
Drew first blood: The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on a two-out walk to Headley and a double into the right-field corner by Stephen Drew, only his fourth hit in his last 43 at-bats, and first RBI since Aug. 25. Drew also had a single in the seventh, his first two-hit game since Aug. 3.
Diving for gold: Mark Teixeira saved a run in the third inning, when he made a diving stop on Reyes' one-hopper headed for right field, which would have easily scored Anthony Gose from second. But Tex made the pick, rolled over and just nailed the speedy Reyes at first for the final out.
He's no umpire: Jeter was the second out of an embarrassing first-inning double play when he broke for second on a 3-2 pitch to Brian McCann, and slowed up halfway down the baseline when he believed Dickey's pitch to be ball four. Obviously, he was easily thrown out -- without a slide -- after McCann was called out on strikes, and appeared to be discussing the call, somewhat sheepishly, with second base umpire Scott Barry.
Pillar of salt: Jays LF Kevin Pillar spoiled Jeter's party by making a diving catch on Jeter's sinking liner to left leading off the fourth inning, which probably would have gone for a double.
Tomorrow: Game 2 of this four-game series matches Hiroki Kuroda (10-9, 3.81) and LHP Mark Buehrle (12-9, 3.40), who has not beaten the Yankees in more than 10 years. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
Jeter homered deep into the left-field seats against R.A. Dickey in the sixth inning, earning a standing ovation from his adoring fans.
Jeter, New York's 40-year-old captain, ended a 158 at-bat homerless streak with the drive, just the fourth home run of his 20th and final major league season. The ball landed about 10 rows into the stands, and Jeter smiled widely as he circled the bases. He exchanged high-fives with teammates when he reached the dugout, but didn't come out for a curtain call.
Jeter is in the lineup for tonight's game against the Toronto Blue Jays, playing shortstop and batting second.
But when asked directly if Jeter would play in every one of the Yankees' last eight games at home, Joe Girardi gave an evasive and cryptic reply.
“We’ll just go day by day," Girardi said. "I’ll DH him some. Like I said, I have to do what is right. I understand people are coming to see him, but I have to do what is right for the club.”
Depending upon where you sit on the issue, that means Girardi will either play Jeter every day, or not play him at all. After his recent 0-for-28 skid, Jeter's average is down to .249, his lowest point since early May and the lowest batting average of his career over a full season, 21 points below 2010's .270. He is batting .122 in September, a month he has traditionally excelled in, with a .315 career BA over the final 30 days of a season.
Still, to blame Jeter for the Yankees' failures this season, or to blame Girardi for continuing to play him and bat him second, is ludicrous; there are still three players in the Yankees' batting order hitting worse than he is -- Stephen Drew (.156), Mark Teixeira (.217) and Brian McCann (.234), and his two most likely replacements, Drew and Brendan Ryan, are hitting 93 and 53 points lower than him, respectively.
By the numbers, Jeter has as much right to be in the Yankees' lineup as just about anyone, and by his history, considerably more.
But if you've got tickets to one of the final eight home games of Jeter's career, there is no guarantee that your ticket assures you of one last look.
Tanaka still a go: Masahiro Tanaka threw 32 pitches in a bullpen session this afternoon and reported no issues, which means he's still on to start against the Blue Jays in Sunday's series finale, his first start since suffering a partially torn UCL on July 8.
Beltran returns: Carlos Beltran returned to the Yankees today following the loss of his unborn son when his wife, Jessica, suffered a miscarriage. Beltran was not in the Yankees' clubhouse during media availability, but Girardi said Beltran would be available to pinch hit tonight if necessary.
“My heart goes out to him, and obviously to his family," Girardi said. "When guys go through this, I think sometimes people think we’re immune to problems because we’re professional athletes. We deal with things on an everyday basis and we go through issues, too. That’s the most difficult part. I just want to get a temperature of where he’s at when he comes in today and then we’ll go from there.”
Together again: The battery of Shane Greene and Francisco Cervelli, which was a thing for the first 10 starts of Greene's major league career, resumes tonight after a two-start hiatus while Cervelli was down with migraines. Greene was 4-1 with a 3.09 ERA in his first nine starts with Cervelli behind the plate before getting bombed by the Red Sox for six runs in less than three innings on Sept. 2, which bloated his ERA to 3.88. In the two starts with Brian McCann behind the plate, Greene is 1-1 with a 1.74 ERA. Greene has faced the Blue Jays once this season, allowing three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings to get a no-decision in a 5-4 Yankees loss on July 27.
Knuckling under: Dickey is 6-3 against the Yankees in nine career starts, with a 2.61 ERA. Although the two teams have met 15 times already this season (Yankees lead the series 8-7), this is only the second time he has started against them. On April 5, Dickey held the Yankees to a run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings at the Rogers Centre. Few of the Yankees have good numbers against him -- Jeter is 2-for-17 (.118) and Teixeira is 2-for-13 (.154), but Jacoby Ellsbury is 5-for-12 (.417), and Cervelli is a ridiculous 4-for-5.
And yeah, the Yankees need to win them all to have any hope of giving Jeter one more October.
Here's the lineup that will face Toronto's righty knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tonight:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brian McCann DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Chris Young RF
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Francisco Cervelli C
Shane Greene RHP
During the course of his season-long retirement tour, Derek Jeter has been given everything from kayaks and cowboy boots to cufflinks and paddleboards.
But up to this point, the best tributes to The Captain have captured the style, grace and connection to the city for which Jeter is known.
On the occasion of Jeter’s final homestand, Gatorade hit that trifecta with Thursday’s "Made In New York" commercial, a black-and-white spot featuring No. 2 meeting and greeting fans as Frank Sinatra's classic song "My Way" plays as the soundtrack.
Gatorade told Ad Week the spot was a “true collaboration” between the company and one of its most-recognized athletes, saying all the sports drink giant did was rope off blocks around Yankee Stadium to let Jeter mingle with fans. The reactions are genuine.
In conjunction with the ad, the company will run a full-page letter, addressed to the city and written by Jeter, in Sports Illustrated and the New York Daily News on Sept. 28 and 29.
Jeter’s Yankee Stadium farewell begins Thursday night against the Blue Jays, who are in town for a four-game series.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesDerek Jeter meets his former New York mate, Jose Reyes, on a double-play attempt.
30 SB in 36 attempts
By the numbers
• Jeter's 333 hits vs. the Blue Jays are 70 more than any other player (Robin Yount is second with 263).
• Jeter is the all-time leader in hits (165), runs (91) and games played (133) at Rogers Centre by a visiting player.
• The Yankees last everyday shortstop before Jeter was Tony Fernandez, who was their primary starter in 1995. Fernandez is the Blue Jays all-time leader in games played with 1,450 and hits with 1,583.
• Jeter reached base 44 times against the Blue Jays in 2005, with 31 hits, 10 walks and 3 hit by pitches. His 44 times on base are the most by any player in a season vs. the Blue Jays.
• Jeter has five separate hit streaks of at least 10 games against the Blue Jays, his most hit streaks of 10-plus games vs. any team. The only other player in baseball history to have at least five 10-game hit streaks vs. the Blue Jays is Robin Yount.
• He had a 19-game hit streak vs the Blue Jays from 2004-06, tied with Mickey Rivers (1977-78) for the longest by any Yankee player against the team.
• Jeter also had a 34-game on-base streak vs the Blue Jays from 2004-06, tied for the fourth-longest streak by any player vs. Toronto.
• Jeter has four go-ahead or game-tying home runs against the Blue Jays in the seventh inning or later. That is his most such home runs against any team. Three of them came against pitchers who were Jeter teammates at one time -- David Wells (2) and A.J. Burnett (1).
• From 2003-11, both Jose Reyes and Jeter played shortstop in New York, with Reyes playing for the New York Mets. In those seasons, Reyes hit .292 with 1,300 hits in 1,050 games. In that same span, Jeter hit .310 and had 1,698 hits in 1,333 games.
• Jeter has 11 sacrifice bunts against the Blue Jays, his most vs. any team. The only players with more against the Blue Jays all-time are Jim Gantner (14) and Paul Molitor (12).
• Jeter's 265 regular-season games vs. the Blue Jays are his most against any team that he has never faced in the postseason.
• Jeter's .056 batting average against Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen (1-for-18) and his .118 batting average against Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey (2-for-17) are his two worst batting averages against active pitchers that he has at least 15 at-bats against.
Jeter's only hit against Janssen was a game-tying home run in the ninth inning on August 27, 2012.
They said it
"One thing you can say about him, his career speaks for itself, but he's one of those guys who seemed to do everything right. Good or bad, he did everything right. He was that guy who always seemed to rise to the occasion when they needed something. Great teams over there, he showed up to play every day."
-- John Gibbons to local media earlier this season
Jeter's best moment
May 28, 1999 -- Jeter went 3-for-4 with two RBI in the Yankees' 10-6 win at the Rogers Centre, hitting three doubles in three at-bats off a 24-year-old Chris Carpenter. It is the only game in his career he's had three doubles in one game.
Toronto was also the site of one of his worst moments, when Jeter injured his shoulder in a collision on a slide into third base on Opening Day 2003. The injury would sideline him for six weeks.
I think it is more likely Long returns; he has just one year remaining on his contract that pays him around $600,000 per season.
Q: What has happened this year?
I'm surprised that, as positive as I am right now, I do feel like it will get better. Obviously, this year it is what it is. I know that [Brian] McCann is in a much better spot than he was earlier in the year. I know [Brett] Gardner has had a good year. I think [Jacoby] Ellsbury could have easily hit .320. That's how he has swung the bat all year. I think [Martin] Prado is a nice pickup and addition that I think is going to help us. This year isn't over, but I expect this thing to get back on track and to be a lot better next year.
Q: How should a hitting coach be judged?
Is the hitting coach doing everything he needs to do to help his players and help the organization? In this case, I would answer, yes, eight years ago, and I would answer, yes, today. We have tried to make adjustments to what we do. We have tried to alter what we do. We have exhausted every ounce of energy to get this thing right. Unfortunately, the positive returns and the dividends that should be rewarded are not there.
Q: Are you concerned about your job?
A: I never think about that. I just think about the day at hand and just helping the organization and the players prepare. This is my 17th year as a hitting coach. I have learned a lot in 17 years. Is there something this year that has been drastically different or any different than those other years? Nothing. So, again, I feel comfortable about myself and what I do as a hitting coach.
"I'm 1-for-my-last-2, guys, I'm hot," said Jeter, noting he grounded out in the at-bat after his hit. "It felt good. I'm well aware of what is going on. At the same time, I try to forget anything that has happened to this point. Those stretches aren't fun. Going through it is difficult because you can't control where it goes."
"I don't know," Jeter said when asked what he expects. "I try not to anticipate anything or try to figure out what it is going to be like. We will find out. I really have no idea."
While Jeter may not feel the finality, the fans surely will as the Yankees will end his championship-filled career on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
"It is strange," Girardi said. "I've been around here a long time. I was here when he really burst onto the scene in 1996. It is amazing how fast time goes. Here he is and he is still playing. It is hard to believe."
Jeter, with 3,451 career hits, refused to relish what was ahead as he tried to soak in actually getting another.
"I'm just happy we won a game and I got a hit," Jeter said. "I'm trying to enjoy it."
Betances picked up his 131st and 132nd strikeouts of the season on Tuesday night in a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays, breaking Rivera's team record of 130 strikeouts as a reliever. While Rivera needed 107⅔ innings reach his mark, Betances has pitched 87⅔.
"Just to be mentioned around his name, you are talking about the best closer, the best reliever in the game," said the 6-foot-8 Betances, who grew up in New York, sitting in the stands as a Bleacher Creature. "Just to be in the same breath as him, you know I take thrill in that. As far as innings, he did it with one pitch so I think that is more amazing."
Betances, 26, has struck out more than 50 percent of his batters (132 strikeouts in 263 outs).
"He's been awesome for us all year," Derek Jeter said. "It seemed like Mo pitched two innings every time toward the middle to end in '96. Dellin has been doing the same thing. He has pitched a lot of innings. The thing with him is that anytime he gets guys on base he's capable of getting out of trouble because he can strike guys out."
Betances, who was a top minor league prospect, struggled as a starter to the point he looked like he might never become a steady major league pitcher.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Carlos Beltran and his wife, Jessica, have lost their son due to a miscarriage, according to a Facebook post by the New York Yankees outfielder. Beltran has been away from the Yankees for two days for what the team termed a family matter.
"It put things in perspective," said Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who has spoken with Beltran. "We are here, playing a game, trying to win games, but the bottom line is family is much more important than anything that happens on a baseball field. Your thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. That's terrible. I feel bad for him. He should take as much time as he needs. I don't know how much time that is going to be, but he should. I can't imagine how he feels."
The Beltrans have two daughters.
"Life took away the blessing of having my first boy," Beltran wrote in Spanish on his Facebook page. "I believe in God and I am thankful for all his many blessings, like my beautiful family, friends, fans, and career. Everything happens and will happen according to God's perfect timing and my wife and I accept it that way. Thank you for all the love and messages."
ESPN Deportes' Marly Rivera contributed to this report.
The retiring Yankees captain lined a single off Alex Cobb leading off the sixth inning. Jeter had an 0-for-32 stretch in April 2004.
Jeter, who lives in nearby Tampa, went 1 for 4 and scored a run in his final game at Tropicana Field. He got a loud ovation from the announced crowd of 26,332 before grounding out in his last at-bat in the seventh.
Cobb (9-8) had his streak of allowing two runs or less in 12 consecutive starts -- tied for third-best by an AL pitcher in 100 years -- come to an end. He gave up three runs and four hits over six innings.
No Fireworks: After making Joe Girardi lose his cool, the Yankees and Rays played nice on Wednesday. Leading off the fifth, Alex Cobb hit Chris Young in the behind. The pitch was 80 mph. Obviously, it wasn't on purpose. Besides that, there was nothing.
Jeter Meter: Leading off the sixth, Jeter broke his 0-for-28 slump with a sharp single up the middle. He is hitting .249 on the season.
Move over, Mo: With his two-strikeout scoreless eighth, Dellin Betances now has 132 on the season, which breaks the Yankees' reliever single-season record set by Mariano Rivera in 1996. Rivera had 130 in 107 2/3 innings. Betances has picked up his number in 87 2/3. Pretty amazing.
Mc Hammer: Brandon McCarthy was excellent once again, allowing just two runs on four hits in his seven innings. He struck out four and walked one. In his final inning, the seventh, he needed nine pitches to record three strikeouts.
D-Rob: David Robertson picked up his 37th save.
Bases Loaded, No Outs: That is the situation the Yanks created for themselves to begin the sixth. How many runs do you think they scored? Nope, not zero. But, just one.
Brett Gardner nearly hit a grand slam. Wil Myers leaped to make an excellent catch at the wall. The ball wouldn't have gone over the yellow line, but it was above the blue wall. In any event, it did bring home Jeter.
Head Games: The man in the news, Chase Headley, nailed an RBI double in the fifth to tie the game. He scored on a Brendan Ryan double to give the Yankees a lead.
Earlier, Headley made a couple of nice defensive plays at third. In the second, he reached over a blue barrier and into the stands to make a catch on a foul popup. In the third, he dove to the line to stab a hard grounder.
Long Gone: Evan Longoria put the Rays up 1-0 with a solo shot in the fourth. It was his 22nd on the season. Longoria also had the Rays' second RBI with a sixth-inning groundout.
On Deck: Jeter will play in the final homestand of his career. The Yankees have seven games, four against the Blue Jays and three vs. the Orioles. His final home game will be next Thursday, Sept. 25. The other important day of the homestand is Sunday, when Masahiro Tanaka returns to the mound for 70-75 pitches.