So, in the last game that Derek Jeter will ever play at the Gray Elephant in St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon kept it up: Chris Young was hit by a pitch from Rays starter Alex Cobb, making it 6 Yankee batters hit by Rays pitchers in the last 5 games between the teams.
It ended up not mattering. Evan Longoria, who always hits well against the Yankees, hit a home run in the bottom of the 4th, to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. But 5th-inning doubles by Chase Headley and the unlikely Brendan Ryan gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Brett Gardner added a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1. The Rays got to within 3-2, but that was it.
Brandon McCarthy went 7 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk. A very strong performance, elevating him to 7-4 since he became a Yankee in midseason. Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless 8th, and David Robertson a scoreless 9th for his 37th save. Cobb took the loss, and drops to 9-8.
So we don't have to face Joe Maddon and his team built in his own classless image again until April 17 of next year, when we once again have to go down to that Tampa Bay dump.
And our long metropolitan nightmare is over: Jeter, desperate enough to try a bunt with 1 out and nobody on in the 1st, singled to lead off the 6th, and was the runner that scored on the Gardy sac fly. He had been 0-for-28 until then.
As Yogi Berra would have said, "Slump? I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hittin'."
It's kind of interesting that the new Gatorade commercial premiered only after Jeter ended the slump.
But it doesn't look like he's going out with a Playoff team. The Yankees are 5 1/2 games behind the Oakland Athletics for the 2nd American League Wild Card spot. The A's have 10 games left. If they split, going 5-5, the Yankees would have to win all 11 games they have left.
As they say on medical dramas, "I'm not going to lie to you: It doesn't look good."
Tonight, the Yankees begin a 4-game home series with the Toronto Blue Jays. Shane Greene pitches against former Met knuckleballer R.A. Dickey. This will be followed by 4 games against the Baltimore Orioles, making it Jeter's final homestand -- his home career ending against the same team that was the opponent in the last game at the old Yankee Stadium. Has it really been 6 years?
Then we close with 3 games against the Red Sox at Fenway, possibly the least consequential Yanks-Sox games in over 20 years.
I wonder if Joe Girardi will play Jeter in those games, or if he'll make the home finale Jeter's finale?