2-for-2 for No. 2 in final All-Star Game
MINNEAPOLIS — It did not take Derek Jeter very long to get involved in the 2014 All-Star Game. On the very first play of the game, Jeter made a diving stop of a hard grounder toward the middle by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, but the reigning National League Most Valuable Player beat the throw to first base for a single.
McCutchen never stopped running that inning. He moved up to second base on a wild pitch during the at-bat of Yasiel Puig, who struck out, and stole third base as Troy Tulowitzki struck out. Mac never made it home, however, as Paul Goldschmidt grounded out to third.
The Twins, who have done a magnificent job as host of the All-Star Game, came up with a nice touch by having a tape of the late Yankees public address voice Bob Sheppard announce Jeter as he stepped to the plate as the first American League hitter in the bottom of the first inning. The tape was apparently from the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
The Target Field crowd was generous with its applause and gave Jeter a standing ovation. Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove and the ball on the rubber and stepped back off the mound in joining his NL teammates in applauding Jeter, who removed his helmet, waved to the crowd and pointed to both dugouts. He motioned to Wainwright to start pitching, but the Cardinals ace remained behind the mound for probably a full minute before taking position.
As play resumed, fans treated the Captain to a “Der-ek Jee-ter” chant familiar to the roll call the bleacher creatures at the Stadium salute him with every night, another cool touch. Jeet got things started for the AL with one of his patented line drives to right field that went into the corner as Jeter legged out a double. The crowd loved it.
And how about that to those who thought Jeter should not have been the AL’s leadoff hitter? One swing, and he was in scoring position. Not bad, eh?
Angels outfielder Mike Trout got Jeter home with the AL’s second extra-base hit of the inning, a triple off the right field wall that the Dodgers’ Yasieal Puig played poorly. After Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano struck out, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera got the AL’s third extra-base hit of the inning, a home run to left field. The score was 3-0, and the Americans had not had a single yet. Perhaps Wainwright should have stayed off the mound.
The National League, which was shut out at Citi Field last year, closed to 3-2 in the second on RBI doubles by Phillies second baseman Chase Utley and Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy to end a 15-inning scoreless streak dating to 2012 at Kansas City.
Jeter was a leadoff hitter again in the third inning against Reds righthander Alfredo Simon and got the AL’s first single on another hit to right field. A wild pitch advanced Jeter into scoring position this time, but he was stranded.
Before the start of the fourth inning, AL manager John Farrell of the Red Sox sent White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez onto the field to replace Jeter, who was showered with another round of long applause while the PA system played Frank Sinatra’s version of “New York, New York” that is heard at the end of every Yankees home game.
Jeter again waved to the crowd, pointed to the NL dugout and then shook the hands of every one of his teammates in the AL dugout and urged on by the crowd came onto the field once more to acknowledge their cheers. He left All-Star competition with a .481 career average in 27 at-bats and seemed in place for maybe another game Most Valuable Player Award to match the one he received in 2000 at Atlanta’s Turner Field.
One stumbling block to that was the NL tying the score in the fourth on another RBI double by Lucroy, this time off White Sox lefthander Chris Sale. That opened the door for Trout, who with his second extra-base hit of the game, a double in the fifth, gave the AL the lead and put him in position to be the MVP.
But if the fans here had their choice, I’m sure they would vote for Jeter.