Major Leagues: Jeter 0-for-4 in return
Published 12:00 am Monday, July 4, 2011
By Tom Withers
CLEVELAND — Austin Kearns hit his first homer in 105 at-bats this season, a stunning three-run shot in the seventh inning off New York’s A.J. Burnett, to send the Cleveland Indians to a 6-3 win and spoil Derek Jeter’s return to the Yankees’ lineup Monday night.
Josh Tomlin (10-4), who carried a no-hitter into the seventh, allowed two runs and three hits. The Indians’ right-hander also became the first pitcher since 1919 to go at least five innings in each of his first 29 career appearances.
Jeter was back at shortstop and again atop the batting order for the first time since June 13, when he went on the disabled list with a calf injury. New York’s captain went 0 for 4 and remained six shy of becoming the first Yankees player to reach 3,000 hits.
“It feels great to be back,” Jeter said. “To be out three weeks is tough when you want to be out there playing. But in retrospect, it was probably the right thing to do.”
Jeter’s calf got its first major league test almost immediately.
He topped Tomlin’s second pitch toward third and raced down the first-base line as Chisenhall was booting the easy grounder for an error. Tomlin then walked Granderson, yielding his first base on balls in 242/3 innings. With two on, none out and their 3-4-5 hitters coming up, the Yankees appeared to be in business.
However, Tomlin retired Teixeira, Rodriguez and Cano on easy flyballs to escape an early hole.
In his second at-bat, Jeter flied out to center in the third. He grounded to third in the sixth and lined to shortstop in the eighth.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was happy to have Jeter back and said he would wait to see how the 37-year-old felt afterward before deciding how much the 12-time All-Star will play before the break.
He didn’t hesitate writing Jeter’s name at the top of his lineup card.
“It’s easy to put him back in there. It’s like he never left,” Girardi said. “You just put him right back in there.”
The Yankees’ captain, named to his 12th All-Star team Sunday, has struggled this season, batting just .260 in 62 games. Jeter is also just a few swings from becoming the first player in New York’s storied history to eclipse 3,000 — a distinction that would separate the 37-year-old from all previous pinstriped greats.
Jeter said he hasn’t spent a moment dwelling on the milestone, which will only add to a Cooperstown-worthy resume.
“At this point, I just want to go out and play a game,” he said. “I mean it’s been three weeks between hits.”
Jeter said he has not spoken with Girardi about getting any rest or if the Yankees will hold him out of a game so he can reach 3,000 hits at Yankee Stadium.
“I want him to get to 3,000 as soon as he can,” Girardi said. “I’m going to manage him more from a physical standpoint than 3,000 hits.”
Jeter’s absence was felt way beyond the boxscore.
“You miss his leadership and his consistency on a daily basis,” Girardi said.