Even when he’s doing nothing, Captain Derek Jeter still finds a way to do something to help the New York Yankees win games, as he so often does. Detroit Tigers’ pitcher, Justin Verlander, kept the strong Yankee lineup in check for most of last night’s game. This included Jeter who went 0 for 3 on the night, breaking up his 15-game hitting streak.
The Yanks found themselves playing from behind for most of the game but continued to answer back until the game was tied 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth. After Russell Martin grounded out to start the inning, it was Jeter’s turn to bat again. With a keen, patient eye, he worked a walk and represented the winning run on first base. Curtis Granderson followed with another walk, and thanks to a wild pitch on ball four and some strong awareness around the bases, Jeter advanced from first to third on the pass ball. Tigers’ relief pitcher, Brayan Villarreal, continued to throw the ball uncontrollably and when yet another ball passed the catcher in Alex Rodriguez’s next at-bat, Jeter was waved home and after a mad dash and slide, the captain safely crossed the plate giving the Yankees an unconventional walk-off win.
Doubts and concerns were raised across Yankee nation when Jeter signed a contract extension in the 2010 offseason that guaranteed the all-star $51 million over three years along with a possible $9 million for a fourth year. Many critics said it was too much money and too much time to give to the aging shortstop, especially after turning out an average season in 2011 to follow the signing of his new deal.
But he’s back in full-force and off to a fantastic start in 2012, slowly silencing skeptics in the process. Jumping out of the gate with 34 hits, a .400 batting average, and .429 on-base percentage, Jeter is off to the best start of his career, reminiscent of the young man the Bronx fell in love with back in 1996 when he debuted as the Yankees starting shortstop.
Critics still exist though and will say that it’s too early to tell if Jeter will remain on this hot streak or if he’ll stay healthy enough to endure the lengthy 162-game schedule. They will continue to debate if his new contract was out of respect and loyalty by the Yankee organization, rather than Jeter’s actual worth to the club. But now in his 16th season in pinstripes, Jeter is still displaying his obvious ability to come through in clutch situations and do whatever it takes time after time, just as he did once again last night.
Derek Jeter is simply a winner and will always do whatever it takes to dig deep and contribute to a Yankee victory any way he can. His hard work, preparation, class, and consistency can never be denied and as long as this continues until his final days in a Yankee uniform, Jeter will undoubtedly leave behind a legacy as one of the greatest players in the history of the legendary franchise.