Derek Jeter hadn’t been on a major league field in over 8 months, but the 39-year-old Yankees icon made an unexpected returned to the diamond Thursday afternoon.
The news was first reported by Ken Rosenthal in the wee hours of the morning. With his return, Jeter tied Mariano Rivera for playing the most seasons as a Yankee with 19.
The Yankee captain went 1-4 with an RBI and a run scored. On the first pitch of his season, Jeter beat out an infield single and would later score on a Vernon Wells sac fly putting the Yankees on the board.
He did have to leave the game due to tightness in his quad following an RBI groundout in the 6th inning. Jeter expects to play tomorrow night, although he did undergo a precautionary MRI.
What Jeter did today was exactly what he’s done throughout his Yankees career, he set the tone.
He got his base hit, his RBI, and his run scored, that’s typical for him. What he brings to this year’s Yankees team that they’ve been severely lacking is a winning mentality.
That mentality was very evident in this game. The Yankees scored 6 of their 8 runs with 2 outs. That’s almost unheard with this year’s team.
Previously, the story of the season had been the Yankees couldn’t get the clutch hits after having several golden opportunities to score. Those clutch hits came up huge today and gave the Yankees a series split with Kansas City after losing the first 2 games.
How much of a difference make Derek Jeter will be the rest of the way for New York is unclear. What is clear however is when Jeter is playing for the Yankees, the team expects to win.
It’s that mentality that could very well get the Yankees back to playing baseball in October. New York is currently 2.5 games out of the 2nd wild card spot, but with the captain back in the fold, expect things to change for the better.