Sunday, July 10, 2011

Jeter Goes 5-for-5, Rolls Past 3000 Hits; Harang, De La Rosa Shine in 1-0 Dodger Win

Players of the Day for Saturday, July 9, 2011

American League

At exactly 2:00 pm EDT, #2, Derek Jeter took a 3-2 pitch from Tampa Bay starter David Price and deposited it in the stands beyond the Yankee Stadium wall in right-center field for his second hit of the game.

Jeter joins 3000 club
There was nothing particularly special about the 3rd inning homer - Jeter had homered 236 times before - except that it was the sparkling shortstop's 3000th career hit, a level reached by only 27 players prior to him. The fans at Yankee Stadium were sent into delirium at the feat and his teammates mobbed him as he crossed home plate.

After singling to lead off the 1st inning with hit #2999, and having tied the game at 1-1, there seemed to be nothing more for Jeter to do that would make his special day any more meaningful, but the thrills were just beginning.

In the 5th, Jeter doubled to lead off the inning and came around to score on Curtis Granderson's single, tying the game again at 3-3. Later in the inning, Robinson Cano's sac fly put the Yankees up, 4-3, as Granderson touched home.

Jeter singled again in the 6th, but the Yankees failed to score. In the top of the 8th, Tampa tied the game again, at 4-4. In the bottom of the frame, Eduardo Nunez - the heir apparent to Jeter's shortstop position - doubled to lead off the inning and was advanced to third on Brett Gardner's sacrifice bunt.

Already having gone 4-for-4, Jeter stepped up to the plate and to the moment, delivering a signature ground single through the middle of the drawn-in infield for the 5-4 game winner after Mariano Rivera retired the Rays in routine 1-2-3 fashion in the 9th.

Five hits in five at-bats, plus a stolen base, two runs and two RBI, including the game winner, was how Derek Jeter signed him name into the 3000-hit club, tying Roberto Clemente at 3000 and surging past him into 27th on the all-time list at 3003.

It was not just a special day; it was an incredible day for Derek Jeter, the fans and for baseball, because there is no more a stand-up player in the game today than Jeter, the permanent Yankee, the modest, soft-spoken fellow who always seems to be in the thick of the action with the clutch hit or the fielding gem.

After all the great Yankees before him - Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Jackson - Jeter stands alone as the only Yankee to ever reach the storied 3000-hit plateau. Further, Jeter becomes only the second shortstop to make the list, joining the legendary Honus Wagner (3420). Of players to homer for their 3000th hit, he joins Wade Boggs (a Yankee in his later years) as the only ones to do that, and Craig Biggio is the only other player to have gone 5-for-5 in the game in which 3000 hits was achieved.

Jeter is the 11th player to get all 3000 hits with one team, a list punctuated by Stan Musial, who had 3,630 hits for the St. Louis Cardinals, Carl Yastrzemski (3,419 for the Red Sox) and Cal Ripken (3,154 for the Orioles).

As he contends through the remainder of the season, Jeter will pass by some great hitters in the 3000-hit club. Al Kaline in next in line at 3007, followed by Wade Boggs (3010), Rafael Palmiero (3020), Lou Brock (3023), Rod Carew (3053), Ricky Henderson (3055) and Craig Biggio (3060). It's a stretch, but Jeter could pass Dave Winfield at 3110 for #19 on the career list, though that is maybe a story for next season.

Jeter has joined truly elite company with his milestone achievement. Hats off to number 2, the Yankee captain, shortstop Derek Jeter.

National League

Rubby De La Rosa
San Diego starter Aaron Harang was not at all pleased when he was pulled after six innings. After all, he was pitching a no hitter. The issue was the pitch count, which had already reached 95. Besides, the opposing pitcher, Rubby de La Rosa of the Dodgers, had only allowed one hit and the score was tied 0-0.

Harang sat, as did De La Rosa after six scoreless innings, allowing just the sole hit and four walks, while fanning eight. Harang had walked three and struck out six.

Aaron Harang
The relievers for the Padres and Dodgers each pitched no hit ball until the Dodgers went to bat in the 9th, still hitless, but, with two out in the frame, Luke Gregerson allowed the first Dodger hit of the game, a double by Jose Uribe, and then gave up the game winner, a single by Dioner Navarro, for the walk-off, 1-0, Dodger win, their third straight shutout victory.

The low-hit game - just three total - was the fewest allowed in a nine-inning game this season and harkens back to September 9, 1965, when Cubs LHP Bob Hendley pitched a one-hitter at Dodger Stadium and Sandy Koufax beat him, 1-0, with a perfect game.

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