The top Yankees victories of the 2010s
By Ryan Touhey
4. vs. Tampa Bay Rays (July 9, 2011 @ Yankee Stadium)– A bright and sunny summer afternoon at Yankee Stadium was engulfed by a massive amount of hype. This buzz was reserved once again to the man who was the center of attention for the Yankees for two decades— Derek Jeter. Coming into this game, Jeter was at 2,998 career hits. He was just two hits away from joining one of the most elite clubs in all of sports— the 3,000 hit club. Although it was obvious that Jeter was going to join, there was some added pressure on him to do it at Yankee Stadium in front of the hometown fans.
Jeter and the Yankees would be facing southpaw David Price. In his first at-bat of the day, Jeter, who confessed that he had been feeling some pressure, singled to left field for hit number 2,999. The crowd erupted as Jeter sawed the final number off to reach his quest. Jeter came up for the second time in the bottom of the third inning with the Yanks down 1-0. Everyone in the stadium was on their feet, their cameras and phones out, awaiting history to be made. If Jeter was to get his 3,000th hit on this day, he was going to have to earn it. Price gave Jeter everything he had, but Jeter would prove to be one tough customer.
He fouled off several pitches and eventually ran the count full at 3-2. Then, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Price threw a curveball down in the strike zone. Jeter’s eyes lit up and swung away sending the ball high in the air to deep left field. Tampa left fielder Matt Joyce chased aimlessly at the descending balls as it landed deep in the left field bleachers for a home run.
Yankee Stadium once again erupted with glee as Jeter rounded the bases. He had become the 28th Major Leaguer to get 3,000 hits, the second man to do it on a home run (the other being Wade Boggs in 1999), and the first Yankee to do so. Jeter was greeted at home plate by his teammates. Jorge Posada was the first to congratulate him and the rest followed suit. Jeter tipped his helmet to the crowd in recognition as he went back into the dugout. Mission accomplished, Jeter had his 3,000th hit in the bag. The only thing that would make the day sweeter is if a victory came along with it.
In his third at-bat in the bottom of the fifth, Jeter laced a double down the left field foul line for his 3,001st career hit. He’d later score the tying run on a single by Curtis Granderson. Jeter came to bat for the fourth time in the bottom of the sixth against a new pitcher, Brandon Gomes. The change of arms did nothing for Tampa as Jeter smacked another single to right field for his fourth hit of the game. The game was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning when Jeter stepped up for the fifth time. Eduardo Nunez was on third base for the Yankees, representing the tying run. To cap everything off on this perfect day, Jeter drove him in with a single up the middle, to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. In the top of the ninth, Mariano Rivera pitched a clean 1-2-3 inning to give the Yankees the win, wrapping up a perfect day for Jeter.
Analysis: Arguably, the most historical regular season game of the 2010s for the Yankees and what a moment it was to see Derek Jeter hit a home run for hit number 3,000. He was never about the long ball, and his 1,000th and 2,000th career hits were infield singles and were not totally “clean.” That’s what made this that much more enjoyable.