Jeter cannot provide dream ending
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.