Results tagged ‘ Dave Winfield ’

Second verse same as the first

Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez became the first rookie in major league history to win the Player of the Week Award in consecutive weeks Monday as he was named American League Player of the Week again for the period ending Aug. 28.

Sanchez batted .522 with seven runs, three doubles, five home runs and nine RBI over six games and 23 at-bats to claim his second straight weekly honor. He was the first player to win the award in successive weeks since the White Sox’ Albert Belle in 1998 (July 6-12 and July 13-19). Sanchez is the fourth Yankees player to win consecutive awards. The others were Don Mattingly in 1987 (July 6-12 and July 13-19), Dave Winfield in 1983 (Aug. 1-7 and Aug. 8-14) and Graig Nettles in 1974 (April 8-14 and April 15-21). Sanchez has already won the award as often as the only other Yankees catcher honored, Thurman Munson, another two-time winner.

Sanchez finished the period first in extra-base hits (eight), slugging percentage (1.304) and total bases (30); tied for first in home runs; second in batting average, on-base percentage (.607) and RBI; tied for third in runs; tied for fourth in hits and tied for sixth in doubles and walks (five).

Sanchez began his award-winning week last Monday night with a two-homer game against the Mariners at Seattle’s Safeco Field, his second career two-homer game after also hitting two jacks Aug. 16 against the Blue Jays. The Dominican Republic native became the first player in franchise history with two multi-homer games within his first 19 career games.

Saturday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium, Sanchez hit his third home run in three days and the 11th of his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the right-handed-swinging, 23-year-old Triple A call-up became the first Yankees player since Tino Martinez (April 5-15, 2005) to club nine home runs in a 10-game span, dating back to Aug. 16.

In his 23rd career game, Sanchez became the quickest player in major league history to hit his first 11 home runs. Additionally, his 11-homer month extended his Yankees rookie record for home runs in a calendar month. The Brewers’ Ryan Braun was the previous bug-league rookie to launch 11 homers in a calendar month, in July of his 2007 National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award-winning season.

Sanchez was the AL Player of the Week for Aug. 8-15 when he had a slash line of .524/.600/1.190 with four runs, two doubles, four homers, six RBI, four walks and one stolen base in 25 plate appearances.

Teammate Starlin Castro (.370, 6 R, 3 HR, 6 RBI) was also in contention for last week’s award, along with Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (.391, 9 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI); Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 13 IP, 11 K), Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (.394, 13 H, 3 HR, 7 RBI); Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.600, .643 OBP, 15 H, 2 SB); Red Sox pitcher David Price (2-0, 1.29 ERA, 14 IP, 15 K); Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (.435, .739 SLG, 10 H, 4 2B) and Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (.462, 5 R, 12 H, 2 HR).

A former teammate of Sanchez was also honored Monday. Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s Jonathan Holder was named International League Pitcher of the Week for Aug. 22-28 after posting two saves and striking out 16-of-20 batters over three scoreless appearances in which the righthander allowed two hits in six innings. In Sunday’s victory over Rochester that clinched a postseason berth for the RailRiders, Holder struck out 12-of-13 batters in four scoreless innings, including 11 K’s in a row. In 12 appearances at Triple-A, Holder is 2-0 with six saves and a 0.89 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings.

A-Rod back at 3B? It almost happened

The Yankees nearly pulled off a third consecutive ninth-inning victory Friday night at San Diego to begin the 10-game, three-city trip that takes them to the All-Star break. They made a lot of noise but ended up one run short.

Had they been able to tie the score, it would have been interesting to see how the Yankees would navigated their way in the field in subsequent innings. Alex Rodriguez, for example, would have played third base for the first time since 2013. He was excited about the prospect and was wearing his glove as he stood on the dugout steps when Brett Gardner made the final out of the 7-6 loss.

Stranded at third base was Carlos Beltran, who was not supposed to play against the Padres because of a sore right hamstring. He was not needed to play in the outfield, but A-Rod was needed at third base because manager Joe Girardi had already used Chase Headley, Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder.

Rodriguez and Beltran had big pinch hits in the four-run ninth. Rodriguez singled home a run and eventually came around to score on an infield out by Aaron Hicks. After Didi Gregorius scored on a wild pitch by Brandon Maurer to make it a one-run game, Beltran doubled to left-center. Girardi considered using pitcher Masahiro Tanaka as a pinch runner but kept Beltran in the game. He hobbled to third base on a grounder to the right side by Jacoby Ellsbury before Gardner ended the rally.

The Yankees caught a break that inning because the day before the Padres traded closer Fernando Rodney, who was having a great season, to the Marlins. Matt Thornton, who pitched for the Yankees a couple of years ago, opened the gates by walking Brian McCann on four pitches and hitting Starlin Castro with a 2-2 pitch before yielding the single against the shift to Rodriguez. That was career hit No. 3,110 for A-Rod, who tied Hall of Famer Dave Winfield for 19th place on the all-time list. Winfield happened to be at Petco Park to witness the hit.

Prior to the ninth, the Yankees experienced a stretch of 18 batters in which only one reached base — McCann with a solo home run (No. 13) in the sixth. Their late rally was an attempt to atone for letting the game get out of hand early, which was due largely to another ineffective outing by Nathan Eovaldi.

The Yankees loaded the bases against Padres starter Colin Rea in the first inning but failed to score. San Diego responded in the bottom half with three runs. The key blow was a two-out, two-run double by Derek Norris. Eovaldi was hurt by the long ball once again as he gave up rookie second baseman Ryan Schimpf’s first career home run in the second and a two-run shot to Wil Myers in the fifth.

Eovaldi was strung for six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. He is winless in six starts since May 29, a stretch in which he is 0-4 with a 9.20 ERA. The righthander has allowed 31 earned runs and 45 hits, including 12 home runs, in 30 1/3 innings in those starts, this from a pitcher who 10 starts into the season was 6-2 with a 3.71 ERA. That ERA has since climbed to 5.54.

In other developments, Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes‐Barre outfielder Aaron Judge was named the International League Player of the Month for June. Judge batted .343 in 102 at-bats and led the IL with nine home runs, 30 runs and a .477 on-base percentage. He also finished among the top three with 25 RBI, 16 extra‐base hits, 70 total bases, 21 walks and a .686 slugging percentage.

Conversely, Nick Swisher has decided to leave the Triple A club. Swish, who played for the Yankees from 2009-12, was hoping to make a comeback after being released by the Braves in spring training. The Yankees have had openings at first base because of injuries, but Swisher never got the call.

The switch hitter batted .255 with seven homers and 25 RBI in 55 games for SWB. After watching Rob Refsnyder, Chris Parmelee and Ike Davis take turns at first base, Swish decided to go home and spend time with his infant daughter.

“I don’t think we would have signed him if we didn’t want to take a look at him,” Girardi told reporters. “We just felt some guys were ahead of him at the time, so he never was called. I respect what he did. He had another baby, so go and enjoy that.”

A-Rod’s 3,000th hit also his 667th home run

In his previous quests for landmark hits such as his 500th and 600th home runs, Alex Rodriguez went days without achieving them as at-bat after at-bat piled up. Not so with his 3,000th hit, however.

A-Rod wasted no time in becoming the 29th member of the major leagues’ 3,000 Hit Club Friday night when he hit the first pitch he saw from Detroit’s Justin Verlander for an opposite-field home run with two out in the bottom of the first inning. Rodriguez’s first big-league hit was 21 years ago as a rookie with the Mariners.

His 3,000th hit was also his 667th career home run. The only players other than A-Rod with 3,000 hits and more than 600 home runs are Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Willie Mays.

Rodriguez joined former teammate Derek Jeter as the only players to reach the 3,000-hit plateau wearing Yankees uniforms. Four other 3,000 Hit Club members played for the Yankees during their careers: Paul Waner, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs.

A-Rod also became the third player whose 3,000th hit was a home run. The others were Boggs with Tampa Bay in 1999 and Jeter against the Rays at Yankee Stadium in 2011. Rodriguez acknowledged the fans’ applause with a curtain call.

That A-Rod’s 3,000th hit came against a pitcher the caliber of Verlander, a former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, was not a surprise. Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, entered the game with a .357 batting average and four home runs in 28 career at-bats against Verlander.

Beltran joins 1,000 AL & NL hit club

Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup Saturday night and may not play Sunday, either, for the Yankees at Tropicana Field. The right fielder has a severe cold. 

Beltran started the winning rally Friday night with a leadoff single in the eighth inning. Brett Gardner pinch ran for Beltran and stole second base with two out. He scored on a single to center by Alex Rodriguez, who also homered twice and drove in four runs.

The knock by Beltran was his 1,000th career hit in the American League to go with 1,329 hits in his time in the National League. He is the only active player with 1,000 or more hits in both leagues and the eighth player overall to accomplish the feat. The list from the Elias Sport Bureau includes two former Yankees — Dave Winfield (1,976 AL; 1,134 NL) and Alfonso Soriano (1,018 AL; 1,077 NL). The others are Orlando Cabrera (1,020 AL; 1,035 NL), Vlad Guerrero (1,375 AL; 1,215 NL), Carlos Lee (1,033 AL; 1,240 NL), Fred McGriff (1,143 AL; 1,347 NL) and Frank Robinson (1,184 AL; 1,759 NL).

Rodriguez’s 61st career multi-home run game was his first since May 23, 2012 against the Royals at Yankee Stadium and the sixth of his career against the Rays, the first since May 17, 2011 at St. Petersburg, Fla. According to Baseball-Reference.com, Rodriguez (at age 39 years, 264 days), became the third-oldest Yankees hitter since 1914 with a multi-homer game. The only Yankees to do it at an older age were Raul Ibanez (twice: Sept. 22, 2012 against the Athletics at age 40 years, 112 days and May 8, 2012 against the Rays at age 39 years, 341days) and Enos Slaughter (July 19, 1959 against the White Sox at age 43 years, 83 days).

Earlier Saturday in a couple of transactions involving pitchers, lefthander Matt Tracy was claimed off waivers by the Marlins and righthander Joel De La Cruz was outrighted off the 40-man roster and onto the roster of Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

 

Jeter still playing despite retirement party

Gerald Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter. (New York Post photo)

Gerald Williams, Cal Ripken Jr., Dave Winfield, Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter.
(New York Post photo)

Derek Jeter saved the best for last. Another ceremony at Yankee Stadium, this one to commemorate the 20-year career of the shortstop who now holds many of the legendary franchise’s records, was drawing to a close.

Microphone still in hand, Jeter began walking off the field and said into it, “We got a game to play.”

Perfect. Sure, it was nice to have his parents, his grandmother, his sister, his nephew and a slew of old teammates and pals on the field to celebrate his impending retirement. But the actual fact will not occur until the last game of the 2014 season. The Yanks had a game Sunday afternoon against a Royals team they are competing against for a post-season berth, and Jeter was in the lineup.

That is what Jeter has always been about. As his former manager, Joe Torre, said before the game, “Derek was always ready to play every day. A manager knew he could count on him.”

Torre was among those closest to Jeter back at the Stadium for the ceremonies, along with former teammates Paul O’Neill, Tino Martinez, Mariano Rivera, David Cone, Bernie Williams, Gerald Williams, Jorge Posada, Hideki Matsui and Tim Raines; Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson; former trainer Gene Monahan; MLB Network broadcaster and former infielder Harold Reynolds and commissioner-elect Rob Manfred.

The Yankees had a few surprises for DJ by trotting out Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Dave Winfield and hoops legend Michael Jordan. The Steinbrenner family presented several gifts, including a Waterford Crystal tower with Jeter’s No. 2 atop it and a check for $222,222.22 donated to his Turn2 Foundation.

“It’s hard to believe 20 seasons have gone by so quickly,” Jeter said to the sellout crowd. “I want to take a brief moment to thank the Steinbrenner family and Mr. George Steinbrenner for giving me the opportunity to play my entire career with the only organization I wanted to play for.

“I thank my family and friends for all their support through the good times and more importantly through the tough times. All my managers, coaches, trainers and teammates current and former, I have been blessed to play with the best. I would not want to compete without you guys.

“Thank you fans for helping me feel like a kid the past 20 years. I got to be the shortstop of the New York Yankees, and there is only one of those. I have loved what I have done and loved to do it in front of you. From the bottom of my heart thank you very much.”

Not much syrup, all on the mark and to the point. This is the Jeter all of us have watched and heard for two decades. What began Sunday was not just the passing of 20 years but that of an era. The Yankees’ most recent dynastic run of championships started in 1996, Jeter’s rookie season. What is harder to believe is that one of these days he will be in one of those seats for guests at Yankee Stadium events.

Throughout all those World Series triumphs from 1996 through 2009 and up to today Jeter has been the constant thread. Sunday was chosen by the Yankees to celebrate that career, but as Jeter plainly put it that career is not over yet.

As team captain, Jeter is the first to break from the dugout onto the field at the start of home games. He went into his similar trot Sunday, but when he reached his customary position at shortstop and turned around he noticed that he was the only player on the field.

His fellow starters had stayed back so that their captain could take center stage in front of the fans who have adored him all these years. Jeet then made a come-on gesture with his glove for the guys to get out there with him. Another Jeter trait: he has never believe he could do it alone. Once again, he was saying, ‘We got a game today.’ ”

Derek Jeter banner unveiled in Great Hall at Yankee Stadium

Derek Jeter banner unveiled in Great Hall at Yankee Stadium

Yanks come back from Ortiz blasts

Judging from crowd reaction, there is probably no opposing player Yankees fans enjoy watching make out than David Ortiz. Loud cheers accompany every strikeout or batted ball that settles in a Yankees’ fielder’s glove.

And this has happened with the Red Sox noted designated hitter more times than you might think. Although he entered Thursday night’s game with a .310 average and 42 home runs in his career against the Yankees, Ortiz was a .241 hitter with eight home runs at Yankee Stadium.

Ortiz improved those numbers in his first two at-bats against Chris Capuano with a couple of home runs in staking Boston to a 3-0 lead in the third inning. With two out in the first, Ortiz ripped a lazar of a line drive off a 0-1 fastball that just cleared the wall in right field.

Two innings later with one out and a runner on first, Ortiz jumped on a first-pitch slider that hung and got stung into the right field bleachers. Ortiz’s 46th multi-homer game raised his season total to 32. There were no wild cheers in the stands either time, just a collection of ooohs and aahhs that such demonstrative displays with the bat from an opponent can generate.

And that explains why the cheers are so loud at the Stadium when he makes an out.

When it came to loud cheering, Derek Jeter earned that in the bottom of the third with a booming drive to the warning track in center field for a two-run double off Red Sox righthander Brandon Workman that cut the margin to 3-2.

It was the 540th two-base hit of Jeter’s career, which tied him with Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Joe Medwick for 32nd place on the all-time list. More cheers were to come when Jeter raced home to tie the score on a two-out, ground single to right-center by Carlos Beltran.

Yankees fans finally got to shout at Ortiz in the fifth. One out after he gave up a tie-breaking homer to another left-handed hitter, Brock Holt, Capuano was spared another encounter with Ortiz and was replaced by lefthander Rich Hill, who used a tantalizing, 75-mph curve to strike him out to the absolute delight of Yankees fans.

Battery charge

In Saturday’s 4-3 Yankees victory over the Angels, Dellin Betances got his first major-league victory and catcher John Ryan Murphy his first major-league home run. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the seventh time in franchise history that the Yankees had a pitcher earn his first career victory and a player hit his first career homer in the same game.

It also happened in 1912 (Al Schulz victory and Jack Lelivelt home run), 1923 (George Pipgras and Lou Gehrig), 1943 (Butch Wensloff and Billy Johnson), 1947 (Dick Starr and Bobby Brown), 1965 (Rich Beck and Bobby Murcer) and 1980 (Mike Griffin and Joe Lefebvre). Elias also noted that Murphy was the first Yankees rookie catcher with one home run and three RBI in a game since Jorge Posada did it three times in 1997.

Alfonso Soriano has 992 career hits in the American League and 1,077 career hits in the National League. He needs eight hits to become the seventh player in history with at least 1,000 hits in each league. The others are Frank Robinson (1,184AL/1,759NL); Dave Winfield 1,976/1,134), Vlad Guerrero (1,375/1,215), Fred McGriff (1,143/1,347), Orlando Cabrera (1,020/1,035) and Carlos Lee (1,033/1,240). If Soriano reaches 1,000 hits in the AL, he would become the first player in MLB history to record 1,000 hits, 500 runs, 500 RBI, 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases in each league.

Winfield to be honored at Negro Leagues Museum

Former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield is among four Hall of Fame players who will make up the inaugural class of the Negro Leagues Baseball Hall of Game. Lou Brock, Joe Morgan and the late Roberto Clemente will also be honored Saturday in induction ceremonies at the Negro League Baseball Museum and Gem Theater in Kansas City, Mo.

The day-long festivities include a press conference, VIP meet-and-greet, reception and dinner at the NLBM — followed by the Hall of Game inductions at the Gem Theater at 8 p.m.

The Hall of Game will annually honor former major league players who best exemplified the spirit and signature style of play that made Negro Leagues baseball a fan favorite. Inductees will also receive permanent recognition as part of the future Buck O’Neil Education and Research Center being developed by the NLBM at the site of the Paseo YMCA where Andrew “Rube” Foster established the Negro National League Feb. 13, 1920.

“This is truly a historic and proud day as we continue our efforts to celebrate the heritage of baseball,” NLBM president Bob Kendrick said. “The Hall of Game celebrates both the style and substance of the Negro Leagues which represented professional baseball at its absolute finest. Our inaugural class of Major League inductees were all, in their unique ways, connected to the Negro Leagues experience. Their play was reflective and reminiscent of that common thread and we’re delighted to welcome them into the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.”

In 2008, Winfield developed the Major League Baseball honorary draft of Negro League players by all 30 MLB teams. “It was a bridge between baseball’s past and baseball’s present,” said Winfield, who had 465 home runs among his 3,110 career hits over 22 seasons. “For all the surviving players and everyone involved, it was a wonderful day.”

Lend support to D-Rob for Clemente Award

David Robertson will represent the Yankees as one of the 30 club finalists for the Roberto Clemente Award presented by Chevrolet, which recognizes a major league player who best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field, including sportsmanship and community involvement.

The Clemente Award pays tribute to his achievements and character by recognizing current players who understand the value of helping others. The 15-time All-Star and Hall of Famer died in a plane crash New Year’s Eve 1972 while attempting to deliver supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

David and his wife, Erin founded High Socks for Hope (a 501c3 nonprofit corporation) after tornadoes devastated his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in 2011. High Socks for Hope’s mission is to lend support to charities and organizations helping those affected by tragedies and provide humanitarian services for individuals in need.

In addition to helping residents of Tuscaloosa, High Socks for Hope has provided aid to those affected by the May 20, 2013, tornado in Moore, Okla., as well as individuals in New York who were affected by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. To help raise money for those in Tuscaloosa, Robertson donated $100 for every strikeout he recorded throughout the 2011-2012 seasons. The righthander racked up 181 strikeouts over the stretch. He has continued his pledge in the 2013 season for the residents of Moore.

In June of this year, the Robertsons teamed up with volunteers from NBTY Helping Hands to help welcome home families displaced by Hurricane Sandy. The Robertsons delivered and unloaded new furniture for four families in Far Rockaway, Queens, and made an additional donation to help furnish homes for six other families in the Far Rockaway area.

The Yankees will recognize D-Rob’s nomination for this year’s Clemente Award with an on-field ceremony Friday prior to their 7:05 p.m. game against the Giants.

Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 17, fans may participate in the process of selecting the national Roberto Clemente Award winner by visiting ChevyBaseball.com, which is powered by MLB Advanced Media, to vote for one of the 30 club nominees. Voting ends Sunday, Oct. 6, and participating fans will be automatically registered for a chance to win a trip to the 2013 World Series, where the national winner of the Roberto Clemente Award will be announced. The winner of the fan vote will receive one vote among those cast by the selection panel.

Yankees players who have received the Clemente Award were Ron Guidry in 1984, Don Baylor in 1985 and Derek Jeter in 2009. Others who played for the Yankees but won the award while with other clubs were Phil Niekro with the Braves in 1980, Dave Winfield with the Twins in 1994 and Al Leiter with the Mets in 2000. Leiter’s broadcast partner in the YES Network booth, Ken Singleton, won the award in 1982 with the Orioles.

Among the other winners are Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Brooks Robinson, Al Kaline, Willie Stargell, Lou Brock, Rod Carew, Gary Carter, Cal Ripken Jr., Barry Larkin, Ozzie Smith, Kirby Puckett and Tony Gwynn. Last year’s winner was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.

Jeet hopes latest leg issue is minor

I saw something Thursday that I never saw before nor ever expected to see – Derek Jeter not running hard to first base. Jeter is on my list of players I have covered over the years who always – always – gave it their all running down the line, right up there with Pete Rose, Dave Winfield and Mookie Wilson.

So when I saw Jeet jogging the final third of the way to first base in the sixth inning I figured something was up. When Yankees manager Joe Girardi sent Brett Gardner up as a pinch hitter for Jeter in the eighth, my suspicions were confirmed. After the game, Suzyn Waldman of WCBS Radio and Meredith Marakovits of the YES Network were informed that Jeter would be unavailable for an on-field, postgame interview.

The warm and fuzzy feeling brought on by Jeter’s return to the Bronx Thursday turned gloomy when it was learned that in his first game back with the Yankees in 2013 Jeter felt tightness in his right quadriceps. Actually, the muscle tightened up slightly in his previous at-bat when he also tried to beat out a ground ball.

The Captain did that all game. He was not at shortstop but as the designated hitter as Girardi decided to ease Jeter back into the mix. DJ beat out an infield single in his first at-bat to the absolute delight of the Yankee Stadium crowd of 40,381 and grounded out his other three times up. On the last one, the quad wouldn’t allow him to go full throttle, which is as rare a sight as there can be in the major leagues.

Of course, Jeter considered the situation minor and fully expects to be back in the lineup Friday night against the Twins.

“It’s not frustrating yet,” he said. “We’ll see what the tests say. I hope it’s not a big deal.”

We have been down the road with Jeter before on these matters. He played much of the 2012 postseason on a weak left ankle that eventually gave way and shattered to knock him out of the American League Championship Series against the Tigers. While on the rehabilitation trail, the ankle broke in another spot pushing his recovery back toward the All-Star break, which is next week.

Jeter is back in pinstripes earlier than planned although later than he wanted. He could have done without the at-bats in the minors but acknowledged, “I understand you have to play games, but I felt that I was ready.”

The original plan was for Jeter to come back to the Yankees and play Friday night after another game as a DH for Triple A Scranton. Jeter was surprised when he returned a call from general manager Brian Cashman telling him to come to New York for Thursday’s game.

Leg injuries to Gardner and Travis Hafner Wednesday night had left the Yankees short. Jeter reached his Manhattan apartment at around 2:30 a.m., got to sleep at around 4, woke up at 6:30 and could not get back to sleep so he decided to get up and go to the Stadium early.

“No disrespect to rehab assignments, but this is Yankee Stadium,” Jeter said. “There’s a huge difference. For me, it was almost like Opening Day. The fans gave me a nice ovation.”

No one in the Stadium could hear the tape of the late Bob Sheppard announcing Jeter as he strode to the plate in the first inning because of the crowd’s reaction. The plate appearance allowed Jeter to tie teammate Mariano Rivera for the most seasons played (19) with the Yankees.

“I thought about that first at-bat ever since I got hurt,” Jeter said, “and I knew I was going to swing at the first pitch.”

Which he did; he hit a topper down the third base line and beat it out for his first hit of the year. He showed no leg problems running to third on a single by Robinson Cano and had a nice trot to the plate on Vernon Wells’ scoring fly ball. On that other trot in the sixth, Jeet was credited with a run batted in as Luis Cruz scored from third base. It was a nice beginning for Jeter, who got his first hit, first run and first RBI out of the way all in the same game.

Perhaps it was just an illusion, but all the Yankees seemed to have more spring in their step with the Captain back. They overcame deficits of 3-0 and 4-1 to take an 8-4 decision and earn a split of the four-game set with the Royals, which is meaningful after having lost the first two games. Three straight two-out singles by Lyle Overbay, Zoilo Almonte and Eduardo Nunez produced four runs in the fifth as the Yankees took control of the game.

The winning decision went to Andy Petttitte (6-5), who passed Bob Gibson on the all-time list of pitching victories with 252. It was not vintage Pettitte, who made an error on a bunt play and had his outfielders working overtime running down long drives. The way the offense has struggled so much of the season, three-run deficits can seem enormous to the Yankees, but Pettitte and the bullpen held KC scoreless after the second inning and waited for the hitters to take their cue from Jeter.

Now it is a matter of waiting for the test results to determine the severity of Jeter’s condition. At 39, the healing process can have more delays, which Jeter understands if reluctantly.

“Age doesn’t creep into my mind when I’m playing,” he said. “Maybe in the morning. . .”

So we wait for Friday morning and hope Thursday wasn’t too good to be true.