Once you saw Carl Yastrzemski on the field at Fenway Park before Sunday’s season finale that marked Derek Jeter’s last major-league game you know this was a big deal. Yaz is one of the most reclusive former athletes in the world. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1989 and has gone back for a ceremony only twice, in 2000 and 2009 for the inductions of former teammates Carlton Fisk and Jim Rice, respectively.
So there was Yaz on the Fenway infield with other Boston stars of the past – Rice, Luis Tiant, Rico Petrocelli, Fred Lynn, Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek – all decked out in Red Sox jerseys to pay homage to a star of the Yankees. The Red Sox did it up big for the Yanks’ captain. Along with Varitek, DJ’s counterpart with the Red Sox, former captains of Boston’s other pro sports teams – Bobby Orr (Bruins), Troy Brown (Patriots) and Paul Pierce (Celtics) – were on hand for the pregame ceremony as well.
The Red Sox had taken a tongue-in-cheek approach to Mariano Rivera’s farewell last year, and it laid a huge egg. They made up for that this year with a grand sendoff for Jeter. David Ortiz and Red Sox shortstop Zander Bogaerts presented Jeter with a sign made up of Fenway scoreboard lettering reading, “Re2spect,” and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who became friendly with Jeter when they were teammates on the USA team in the World Baseball Classic several years ago, handed the retiring icon second base with No. 2 in pinstripes across the front. The Red Sox organization also gave Jeter a $22,222.22 donation to the Captain’s Turn2 Foundation, equaling the largest check he received from an opposing team, that of the Mets. Major League Baseball had also given Jeter a check for that amount, but not surprisingly the Yankees came up with the largest donation of all — $222,222.22.
There had been some speculation that Jeter might pull a Ted Williams and not play in the three-game series following his triumphant final game at Yankee Stadium Thursday night when he had the game-winning hit. Teddy Ballgame homered in his final Fenway at-bat in 1960 and decided not even to go to New York for the last series considering the Yankees had already clinched the American League pennant. Well, the Yankees were out of contention this week, too, something Jeter was not accustomed to, but out of respect for the game and the supporters of the Yankees’ biggest rivals he made the trip to Boston.
There were no such things as farewell tours years ago. Players would receive a standing ovation and then just go home. In fact, Jeter’s last game came on the 46th anniversary of Mickey Mantle’s last big-league appearance, also at Fenway Park. The Mick started at first base but never took the field. He batted in the first inning, popped out to shortstop, and was replaced at his position by Andy Kosco. Unlike Jeter, however, Mantle did not announce his retirement in that season of 1968 but rather the following March before the start of spring training in 1969.
Jeter had made a pact with manager Joe Girardi that he would make two plate appearances as the designated hitter, the same as he did Saturday. Jeter did not play Friday night because he was exhausted from all the tension and excitement of his Stadium exit game as well as his last as a shortstop. DJ lined out to short in the first inning. Batting with Ichiro Suzuki on third base after hitting a two-run triple in the third, Jeter hit chopper off the plate and beat it out for a single that drove in a run, his 50th RBI of the season, and settled his career hit total at 3,465, sixth on the all-time list.
At that point, Jeter came out of the game for a pinch runner, of all people, Brian McCann, one of the slowest runners in the majors (he even lost a pregame footrace to Mark Teixeira). Unlike last Thursday night when his emotions nearly got the best of him, Jeter was calm and flashed often his signature smile. While he left the game, he did not leave the dugout and cheered on his mates through a 9-5 victory.
The Red Sox had one more cool surprise for Jeter. They arranged for Bernie Williams, former Yankees center fielder and current road musician, to play “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on his guitar for his old teammate during the seventh-inning stretch, a poignant moment that echoed the end of an era for the Yankees. Perhaps that is why the Red Sox celebrated the day.
Jeter, not always comfortable with the out-of-town attention this year and under some criticism lately for what seemed at times an over-merchandizing of his farewell tour, was grateful to the Red Sox for this parting glass.
What I will take mostly from this game was Jeter’s hit itself. He ran hard to first base as he did from Day One in a Yankees uniform, forcing an infielder to hurry and eventually be unable to make the play. Most Yankees fans would have surely loved to see Jeet rip one over the Green Monster to finish off his career, but the dash to first base exemplified what Jeter was all about the past 20 years. You run everything out. It is the only way he played every day.
So it turned out what Derek Jeter needed most in his final game at Yankee Stadium was Mariano Rivera. Then again, if Mo had been available to close out Thursday night’s game, it might not have had the dramatic finish it did.
Appropriate is the key word to describe the finish of the Yankees’ 6-5 victory over the Orioles in the Captain’s last appearance in the home pinstripes. All week long Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked what gesture he was contemplating for Jeter’s farewell. The skipper kept saying he would consult with Jeter, who did the one thing he has always done over 20 seasons in the major leagues — play the game until the last out.
Who else was better to win Jeter’s Stadium finale than Jeter? He fought back emotion in the last two innings after the Yankees had grabbed a three-run lead but reverted to the cool demeanor that has defined him to be in place to get the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was achieved with his familiar inside-out swing, a single to right field that delivered pinch runner Antoan Richardson to the plate to end as astonishing an evening as there ever has been at either Yankee Stadium.
David Robertson, who succeeded Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, had a nightmare of a ninth inning by giving up a two-run home run to Adam Jones and a solo shot with two out to Steve Pearce that tied the score and threatened to ruin the night for Jeter. Rivera as well as other old teammates Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Tino Martinez and Gerald Williams and former manager Joe Torre were in attendance as well as Derek’s parents and his sister and nephew among a crowd of 48,613, the largest this year at the Stadium.
The blown save actually created the possibility that Jeter could be the hero. He had already contributed to the Yankees’ attack with a run-scoring double in the first inning and an RBI fielder’s choice in the seventh when the Yankees went up by a 5-2 score.
Imagine if Girardi had sent Brendan Ryan out to play shortstop in the top of the ninth to let Jeter get a standing ovation leaving the field? What a revolting development that would have been.
Two minor-league call-ups helped frame the bottom of the ninth for the Yankees. Jose Pirela led off with a single past third base. Richardson ran for Pirela and was sacrificed to second by Brett Gardner. I will not use the phrase “those remaining in the crowd” because I doubt anyone left the game before it ended. Up came Jeter to another crescendo of cheers. That was nothing compared to what came next. Jeter’s single was worth the price of every expensive ticket, the hottest one all year in New York.
His current teammates mobbed Jeter on the base path between first while his former comrades looked on approvingly. Hugs and high fives abounded. Jeter walked around the infield waving his cap in acknowledging the fans in every section of the Stadium.
He then walked slowly to the shortstop position, the only one he has ever played on a major-league diamond, and squatted in an almost religious gesture. He said afterward that he will not play shortstop again. He will go to Boston for the Yankees’ final three games of the season and out of respect for Red Sox fans plans to play but as a designated hitter only.
Jeter’s last season was nowhere near his best, but at 40 playing one of the game’s most demanding positions he stayed healthy and made it through 143 of the team’s 159 games. His hit gave the Yankees victory No. 82, guaranteeing them a winning season for the 22nd consecutive year. Jeter never had a losing season in the majors. The Captain also saved his best for last. In his final home stand, Jeter batted .353 with five runs, four doubles, one home run and nine RBI in 34 at-bats.
His Stadium numbers are also impressive. Jeter played in 1,390 regular-season games in the Bronx — 1,004 at the old Stadium and 386 at the current Stadium. He combined to hit .313 with 1,012 runs, 273 doubles, 30 triples, 138 home runs, 666 RBI and 193 stolen bases in 5,514 at-bats.
It is hard to believe that this tremendous career has come to an end. I was able to get a quiet moment with DJ before the game. I am not going to Boston and wanted to say my goodbyes and tell him how much I enjoyed watching him play and thank him for his cooperation over the years.
It was also the end of an era. Jeter, Posada, Pettite, Rivera and Bernie Williams are the only players I have covered in a 40-year career as a baseball writer from their first day of spring training to their last game at Yankee Stadium. They are the Core Four Plus One. Jeter’s retirement ends all that. But what an ending!
Things were humming along smoothly for Derek Jeter’s last game at Yankee Stadium. He fielded questions from reporters before the game and said he did not want to get into emotions with a game to play and would wait until after the game to express an opinion.
Outside, meanwhile, rain kept coming down as the forecasts had predicted. Imagine Jeter’s last Stadium game being rained out? Not a chance. The skies cleared about an hour before the game. The tarp was removed. Pitchers warmed up. Players ran sprints on the damp outfield grass. There would be baseball after all.
The Stadium filled up with camera- and cell phone-carrying fans prepared to record visually every moment of this special night. A farewell video to the Captain from the people of New York City ran on the center-field screen before the club took the field. The Yankees on Demand presentation from AT&T became available on yankees.com shortly after the first pitch.
Then came that first pitch with the crowd still chanting “De-rek Je-ter!” But the first-inning pitches by Hiroki Kuroda proved a little too inviting for the first two Baltimore batters, Nick Markakis and Alejandro De Aza, each of whom homered off 1-2 deliveries.
Talk about a pall going over a crowd. The only cheering heard at that time was when a fan threw Markakis’ leadoff homer back onto the field, the customary act of defiance against an opponent. The Yankees are already eliminated from post-season consideration, so Jeter was playing in a game in which the Yankees were out of contention for only the second time in his 20-season career. The only other such game was Sept. 26, 2008 at Boston, which turned out to be a 19-8 Yankees victory. The Stadium crowd would have loved such a score Thursday night.
Leave it to Jeter to step into the moment as he helped the Yanks get even with two runs in the bottom of the first. Brett Gardner, who has had a rough go of it this month, led off against Orioles righthander Kevin Gausman with a single to right field.
Jeter got the fans on their feet with a drive near the top of the wall in right-center for a double that sent Gardner scampering home. DJ had a satisfying hand-clap as he stood on second base while the crowd reacted with cheers of ear-splitting decibels.
The Captain negotiated the rest of the way around the bases on a wild pitch and an error by second baseman Kelly Johnson, who was stationed in shallow right field in an over-shift against Brian McCann but could not get the handle on grounder for an error as Jeter scored.
The Yanks’ rally negated the Orioles’ outburst and allowed fans to settle in to a game they hoped would continue to feature Jeter in a positive light.
For a while there Wednesday, it appeared as if Derek Jeter’s teammates would get him to the last game of his career at Yankee Stadium Thursday night being meaningful. Sure, the Yankees were on a death watch regarding post-season play, but so long as they were not eliminated mathematically Jeter could come to the Stadium knowing he was in a game that counted.
That had been the case for all but one game in his career, back in September 2008 when the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Every year since his call-up from the minors in 1995, Jeter played in games for the Yankees when they contended for the post-season. They did not make it last year, either, but he missed most of the season because of injuries.
An RBI double in the first inning by Mark Teixeira and solo home runs by Stephen Drew in the second and Shane Headley in the third had the Yankees out to a 3-0 lead before a frenzied crowd of 46,056. A victory would give the Yanks hope for a continuation of their goal unless, of course, the Royals or the Athletics won later in the day.
Then came the six-run Baltimore fourth. That hope began to fade. The Orioles pushed their lead to 9-3 in the eighth. The Yankees could only retaliate with a two-run homer by Teixeira. A three-homer game by the Yanks could not prevent a 9-5 loss that eliminated them from contention. That marks two straight years of no October baseball for the Yankees, a first since 1992 and ’93 — two years before Jeter arrived on the scene and settled into the center of a new era of pinstriped success.
In the end, it did not matter what Kansas City or Oakland did. The Yanks fell on their own swords. Thursday night’s season finale, weather permitting, will be all about Jeter now, although it is hard to describe a meaningless game in such a manner.
“Right now, I feel sad,” the Captain said after the game. “We didn’t play well enough. It’s tough. We had stretches where we played great and stretches where we didn’t.”
Questions came his way about Thursday, to which he answered repeatedly, “I don’t know; I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
Of course he does not know. Jeter has so scant experience in playing a game when the Yankees are out of contention that he cannot be sure where his emotions will take him Thursday night when the Stadium will be jammed with people bearing cameras and cell phones directed at his every move.
After his final at-bat, in the eighth inning Wednesday in a 0-for-4 game, following a feeble groundout to first base, Jeter was urged by the crowd to make a curtain call. They kept it up after Headley singled and were still imploring DJ after Teixeira’s homer. But he remained in his seat, a blank stare saying it all.
“It wasn’t the time for that; we were trying to get back into the game,” he said later.
Thursday night will be the time for that. It is just tough for Jeter to think of any one game that actually could mean something for him yet not for his team. His desire to win never permitted him to think that way. Now he has no other choice but to absorb that fact and embrace the adulation Yankees fans will send his way one last time in the Bronx.
What Louisville Slugger did to honor Derek Jeter Wednesday was unprecedented in the 130-year history of the company that is the official bat maker of Major League Baseball. The manufacturers announced that it is retiring Jeter’s model P72.
James Sass, director of professional baseball sales for the company based in Louisville, Ky., said, “Derek has swung one bat model from one bat company his entire career. He has made more than 12,500 plate appearances in his 20 MLB seasons, and every single one of them has been with a Louisville Slugger P72. With Derek’s impending retirement, we thought it was fitting to retire his bat model in recognition of his brilliant career.We are grateful for his enduring and unwavering loyalty. In honor of Derek’s tremendous career and impact, we won’t be making the P72 anymore.”
Company officials surprised the Captain with their decision in a presentation of “The Last P72” before Wednesday’s Yankees-Orioles game at Yankee Stadium.
The P72 has been one of the more popular models with players over the decades. In addition to Jeter, who ranks sixth on the all-time career hits list, it has been swung by Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Robin Yount, among others.
The specifications of the P72, with its medium barrel and balanced swing weight, will still exist for players to order, but under a new model name. It will be called the DJ2 in recognition of Jeter’s and his career. There is one potential exception where Louisville Slugger could use the P72 name on bats again;the company says it will invoke a grandfather clause to use P72 for any descendent of the player the bat was originally made: Les Pinkham
In addition to retiring the P72 model number, Louisville Slugger will give the final 72 P72 bats to be produced to Jeter to raise funds for his Turn 2 Foundation, which he founded in his rookie season.
“We know how much Derek’s Turn 2 Foundation means to him, so we wanted to do something significant to help the organization as it works to positively impact young lives,” Sass said. “So we’re giving Derek the last 72 of his P72’s to use for Turn 2. These bats will be amazing collectors’ items and should help raise a lot of money for his foundation.”
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory will purchase back the first of the final 72 bats to exhibit in its main gallery in Louisville. The museum provided a check for $5,000 to the Turn 2 Foundation.
Jeter ordered 33.5-inch, 31-ounce P72 model bats in 1995 and 1996. He went to a longer and heavier 34-inch, 32-ounce model P72 Louisville Slugger in 1997 and has stayed with it ever since. In his 20-season career, Jeter has ordered more than 2,500 P72 model Louisville Slugger bats.
Previous players who swung the P72 in addition to Ripken and Yount, both former two-time American League Most Valuable Players (Yount in 1982 & ’89, Ripken in 1983 & ’91), include another two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez (1996 & ’98), 1999 AL MVP Ivan Rodriguez, 1977 National League MVP George Foster, 1982 World Series MVP Darrell Porter, Yankees bench coach and former catcher Tony Pena, Athletics general manager and former outfielder Billy Beane, as well as Andy Van Slyke, Gary Gaetti, Glenn Hubbard, Jose Cruz, Mike Easler, Sandy Alomar Jr., Von Hayes, Nomar Garciaparra and two of Jeter’s closest friends, Gerald Williams and Harold Reynolds.
Orioles second baseman Kelly Johnson, who was a teammate of Jeter with the Yankees this season until he was traded in July, used a P72 model bat when he homered Tuesday night at the Stadium.
Louisville Slugger created the P72 in 1954 for Leslie Wayne Pinkham, a minor league player from Elizabethtown, Ky., who was playing Triple A baseball in Columbus, Ohio. The “P” denotes the first letter of Pinkham’s last name. “72” means Pinkham was the 72nd pro player whose last name started with “P” for whom Louisville Slugger made a specific model bat, thus the “P72.” His son, Bill Pinkham, also used his father’s bat model when he was a player in the Reds organization.
Louisville Slugger presented Jeter with a special award to commemorate the retiring of the P72 model number. The award features the last P72 ever made for Jeter. These are the words engraved on the award presented to Jeter:
THE LAST P72
Louisville Slugger® created the P72 model in 1954 for Leslie Wayne Pinkham. It became one of professional baseball’s most popular bats.
Derek Jeter swung a Louisville Slugger P72 for every plate appearance he made over his 20-season MLB career.
In honor of the Yankee Captain’s retirement, and in acknowledgement of his unwavering loyalty, Louisville Slugger officially retires the P72 at the conclusion of the 2014 MLB season, 60 years after it was created.
The Derek Jeter signature model bat mounted here is the last P72.
Those in the crowd of 43,201 at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night who waited long enough for what appeared at the time to be Derek Jeter’s possible last at-bat of the game were rewarded when the Captain beat out a slow roller to third base for a single with two out.
An even greater award came two pitches later as Brian McCann belted a 94-mph fastball from lefthander Andrew Miller, one of the hardest-throwing relief pitchers in the game, for a two-run home run that cut the Yankees’ deficit to 5-4. McCann, who had singled and scored in the sixth inning, had eight home runs in September, his most in a calendar month since July 2012 when he had nine.
It was not that long ago that the Yankees were down by four runs on scores of 4-0 and 5-1 to the Orioles, who used the long ball to build the large leads against Brandon McCarthy. His pitches were up for much of his 5 1/3 innings and he paid the price for that.
Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz all took McCarthy deep. Johnson, who started the season with the Yankees and was dealt to Boston for Stephen Drew in July, got his first home run since joining the Orioles Aug. 30 leading off the second inning. Markakis added a two-run shot in the fourth. Cruz led off the next inning with his 40th home run, the most in the majors.
So instead of a sizable portion of the crowd heading for the exits after getting one last glance at Jeter the house remained full with the improved prospects of a Yankees comeback and a hope that the Captain might get one more time at the plate.
Someone needed to get on base in the ninth for that to happen because Jeter was the fourth scheduled batter that inning. Brett Gardner provided the opportunity for DJ with a two-out single over the mound against lefthander Zach Britton, the Baltimore closer.
With the crowd chanting “Der-ek Je-ter,” the Captain had his chance to be a hero, but this would not be a Hollywood ending. Britton struck Jeter out on three pitches.
One night after scratching out only one hit against the Yankees, the Orioles banged out 17 hits, including four by Markakis and three apiece by Cruz, Johnson and Nick Hundley. Yet only one of their hits came with a runner in scoring position in seven at-bats as Baltimore stranded 11 base runners.
The Yankees did not do well in that category, either, with eight hitless at-bats in the clutch. Yankees pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts (eight by McCarthy, two by Dellin Betances and one by David Robertson) to set a season franchise record of 1,319, one more than the previous mark of 2012.
With the Royals winning in Cleveland, the Yankees remained five games back in the wild card hunt and failed to take advantage of the Mariners losing at Toronto. Only five games remain in the regular season for the Yankees, and they are down to this: they must win every game and hope clubs ahead of them stumble.
The accolades keep coming Derek Jeter’s way in his final week of regular-season play. Despite all these goodbyes, there is the possibility however remote that the Yankees could get to play in October since they have not yet been mathematically eliminated from the post-season.
Commissioner Bud Selig, himself at the end of his career, made his farewell-tour stop at Yankee Stadium Tuesday and presented Jeter with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, an honor created in 1998 to take note of special accomplishments in the game. Mariano Rivera received the award last year in his last season. Earlier this month, legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully also received the award. Jeter is the 15th recipient of the award.
Speaking at a news conference before Tuesday night’s Yankees-Orioles game, Selig said, “When I was kid, as I reminisced the other day, my favorite player was Joe DiMaggio. What Joe D meant to my generation, Derek has meant to his. I’ve been overjoyed to see Derek join the heroes of my youth — Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and all the other greats. He is a great champion in every way.”
“It means a lot for the commissioner to take the time and present me with this award,” Jeter said. “I’ve always had the utmost respect for him throughout my career. As he said, our careers have paralleled. He is the only commissioner that I played under. We had a great relationship throughout the years. For him to take the time to present me with this award that hasn’t been handed out too much, it is something that I will definitely cherish.”
The commissioner also presented on behalf of Major League Baseball a check for $222,222.22 to Jeter’s Turn2 Foundation, which brings the total of donations to the Captain’s charity on his farewell tour across the majors to more than $575,000. MLB’s donation equaled that of the Yankees’ gift of $222,222.22, which they presented on Derek Jeter day at the Stadium Sept. 7.
On nights like Monday, you wonder where the Yankees could be this year if they had Michael Pineda the whole season. The righthander, who missed 86 games because of a shoulder injury, was close to perfect for 7 1/3 innings Monday night as the Yankees got their final home series off to a good start with a 5-0 victory over the Orioles.
Pineda gave up only one hit, a one-out single in the fifth inning to J.J. Hardy, and allowed only one other base runner on a walk with one out in the eighth to his last batter. Shawn Kelley, Rich Hill and David Phelps finished up the one-hitter for Pineda, who earned his first victory since Aug. 25 at Kansas City. He was 0-3 with a no-decision over his past four starts despite pitching to a 2.49 ERA. His ERA for the season is 1.93.
Derek Jeter continued his hot final home stand with a double and three runs batted in that raised his career total to 1,307, which tied him with Hall of Famer Paul Molitor for 109th place on the all-time list. The Captain is 9-for-20 (.450) on the home stand with three doubles, one home run and six RBI.
Also climbing up a career list was Ichiro Suzuki, whose infield single in the seventh was his 2,840th hit in the major leagues, which tied him with Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer for 47th place on the all-time list.
The Yankees set a franchise mark for players used with rookie Jose Pirela serving as the designated hitter batting ninth. He tripled in his first major-league at-bat and got his first RBI in the big leagues as well in the third and scored on a groundout by Jeter. Pirela singled in the fifth and scored on Jeter’s two-run double. Pirela was the 57th player the Yankees have had on their 25-man roster this year, the most in club history. They used 56 players in 2013.
They could add to the total since they claimed outfielder Eury Perez off waivers from the Nationals. In 67 games combined with Triple-A Syracuse, Class A Potomac and the Class A Gulf Coast League Nationals, the right-handed batter hit .310 with 36 runs, 14 doubles, two home runs and 15 RBI in 242 at-bats. Perez has appeared in 22 career major-league games with the Nationals (2012-13) and batted .154 with four runs and four stolen bases in 13 at-bats.
Chase Headley added to the scoring with a home run in the seventh, his 12th of the season and fifth since joining the Yankees.
Masahiro Tanaka did not walk off the mound Sunday grabbing his right elbow, which was the best development of the day for him and the Yankees. Making his first start in 10 weeks after being treated for a partially-torn ligament in his elbow, Tanaka showed no ill effects of the injury and gave the Yankees encouragement about his status for next season.
The only negative aspect of the Japanese righthander’s outing was that he failed to go at least six innings for the first time in 19 starts. Manager Joe Girardi made the move to the bullpen after 5 1/3 innings. Tanaka was on a tight pitch count considering the circumstances, so when Edwin Encarnacion hit a ground single to right field against the shift on Tanaka’s 70th pitch the skipper felt he had seen enough, most of which was good.
“Pretty darn good,” Girardi said, then referring to catcher Brian McCann added, “Mac said his stuff was the same [as before he got hurt]. Now we’ve got to get him ready to start Saturday [at Boston]. His first pitch was 92 [mph]. I don’t think I was prepared for that. We haven’t had a lot of good news lately, so this was welcomed.”
Tanaka got off to a shaky start as he allowed hits to the first two Toronto hitters, but the run that scored on a double play proved the only one he would allow. He was touched for five hits and again displayed superb control by not walking a batter (he did hit one) and had four strikeouts. His splitter was on target as eight of the 16 outs he recorded came on ground balls.
“Overall, I was satisfied,” Tanaka said through a translator. “I wanted to check how well the elbow responded. I was able to go pretty strong. I was relieved. Gradually, as the game went on I stopped worrying about it.”
When Tanaka did walk off the mound, he did so with a 2-1 lead. The Yankees tied the score in the bottom of the first on the first of two McCann home runs in the game and went ahead in the fifth on a homer by Brett Gardner, his 17th this season and No. 15,000 in franchise history. Both bombs were off Toronto’s hard-throwing starter, Drew Hutchison, who could not get through the fifth inning.
The Yankees attacked the Blue Jays’ bullpen in the seventh. Back-to-back doubles by Gardner and Derek Jeter off Todd Redmond accounted for one run, and McCann knocked in two more by greeting lefthander Daniel Morris with his second homer of the game and 22nd of the season.
Jeter kept up his torrid home stand with his fourth straight two-hit game, the first Yankees player 40 or older to do that and the first in the majors since the Braves’ Chipper Jones in 2012. DJ is 8-for-17 (.471) with three runs, two doubles, one home run, three RBI and a stolen base on the home stand.
A strong candidate for both Cy Young Award and Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award consideration in the American League before he got hurt, Tanaka improved his record to 13-4 with a 2.47 ERA and to 6-1 with a 1.69 ERA in seven day-game starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Tanaka is one of four pitchers to have made his first post All-Star Game appearance in September after being named to an All-Star squad that season, joining the Indians’ Ray Narleski in 1956, the Astros’ Joaquin Andujar in 1977 and the Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz in 2013.
Ordinarily you might think Brett Gardner would be one of the last players on the Yankees who would have hit an historic home run. Gardner was known primarily as a singles hitter with occasional pop, but this year the outfielder has displayed much more muscle at the plate.
Gardner, who has had his struggles lately while coming back from an abdominal injury, swung his way into the franchise record book in the fifth inning Sunday when he connected on a 3-2 fastball from Blue Jays righthander Drew Hutchison for a home run to right field that unlocked a 1-1 score.
It was the 17th home run of the year for Gardner, whose previous career high for homers in a season was eight in 2013. Even more importantly, Gardner’s blow off 94-mph heat was the Yankees’ 15,000th home run, the most in major-league history. The Yanks had gotten to 14,999 in the first inning on a solo homer to right by Brian McCann.
Gardner joins the list of Yankees with milestone homers:
1,000: Bob Muesel, off Boston’s Paul Zahniser in a 4-2 victory Sept. 2, 1925 at Yankee Stadium.
5,000: Mickey Mantle, off the Tigers’ Billy Hoeft in a 10-8 loss Aug. 8, 1954 at Detroit.
10,000: Claudell Washington, off Minnesota’s Jeff Reardon in a 7-6 victory April 20, 1988 at Minneapolis.
The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Yankees are the only team in major-league history with more than 14,000 home runs. The Giants are second, more than 1,000 homers behind.