By Evan Brunell
The Jeter Watch comes to an end as the longtime Yankees shortstop rifled a home run on a full count from David Price into left field for his 3,000th hit, just the second time anyone has ever hit a homer for the milestone that only 27 other players have reached. But Jeter didn't just settle for 3,000, a five-hit day propelled him to 3,003 for his career.
"Hitting a home run was the last thing I was thinking about," Jeter said. "Something I will remember for the rest of my life."
More importantly, his fifth hit was an RBI single to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning over the Rays. Mariano Rivera, who made his debut with the Yankees in the same year as Jeter, picked up his 22nd save to give the Yankees the victory on what was Jeter's day in every sense of the word.
In the third inning, Jeter fought Price to a full count in the bottom of the third with one out by looking at a fastball low for a ball, then seeing an outside strike on a breaking ball called. Another low fastball for a ball followed before he rifled a breaking pitch foul. Yet again, he passed on a low fastball for a ball then rifled two straight foul balls before driving the next pitch into the bleachers to become the first Yankee ever to reach the coveted milestone. You can see the pitch breakdown in the graphic on the right, courtesy MLB.com's GameDay, with No. 8 signifying the home run.
"Congratulations, first of all, to Derek Jeter on joining the 3,000 hit club. It is an exclusive honor, achieved by only a select group, that not many people can call their own. It is a monumental achievement," Boggs said in a statement. "I had the opportunity to play with Derek when he was a rookie in 1996, and I had no doubts that Derek would reach this milestone. He is a very consistent player and he never deviated from his game."
As Jeter headed to first, Casey Kotchman tipped his cap upon rounding first base in a classy gesture. The Rays, who had voted not to play a split double-header today in what some felt was a gambit to avoid Jeter getting 3,000 against the team, applauded on both the field and bench -- including Jeter's former teammate in Johnny Damon -- as the Yankees spent several minutes congratulating Jeter, with Jorge Posada, a longtime close friend, embracing him with a bear hug.
"It was tremendous," Jeter's father, Charles, told YES. "I can't describe how I was feeling. ... Very emotional for me, very happy for him."
No. 2,999 had come in the first inning, with a groundball single to lead off the game. Prior to Jeter's homer, Brett Gardner just narrowly missed a safe call at first on his own groundout, and Mark Teixeira followed Jeter with a groundball into left field. It is currently tied 1-1, as Tampa Bay's Matt Joyce hit a home run in the second.
Jeter led off the fifth with a double and singled in the sixth before recording his fifth hit in the eighth. It was his third career five-hit game and first since June 21, 2005. He became the second player to have five hits in the same game that he recorded his 3,000th career hit, joining Craig Biggio who had five hits when he joined the club in 2007.
|Jeter's milestone hits|
|No. 1||May 30, 1995||Single at Mariners||Tim Belcher|
|No. 1,000||September 25, 2000||Single vs. Tigers||Steve Sparks|
|No. 2,000||May 26, 2006||Single vs. Royals||Scott Elarton|
|No. 2,722||September 11, 2009||Single vs. Orioles||Chris Tillman|
|No. 3,000||July 9, 2011||Home run vs. Rays||David Price|
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