By Jon Lane
Derek Jeter’s two-run blast to left tied the game at two in the third inning. The homer was Jeter’s 18th in the postseason (10th in the DS), tying Reggie Jackson and Mickey Mantle for third on the Yankees’ all-time list.
Jeter is baseball’s record holder in postseason hits (155), singles (129), at-bats (497) and runs scored (88) along with a .312 career average with 18 homers and 51 RBIs. If you ask him what brings out his best during the postseason, he’ll provide his best Jeff Spicoli impersonation: “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know what else to say,” Jeter said. “I failed a lot as well, you know. Sometimes you’re going to fail. What you try to do is when you’re in those situations you think of the times you had success. I don’t think you can be afraid to fail, but you just try to have fun. That’s all I try to do is have fun because we’re playing a game.”
Nick Swisher has been on the receiving end of many Jeter clutch hits. It’s safe to say he’s enjoying the view from the other side.
“It’s pretty impressive,” Swisher said. It’s almost like he takes it just like any other game, but it seems like once those lights hit in the postseason, it’s ‘Jeter Time.’ There’s just something about him. Every accolade he’s got throughout his career is very well deserving. Finally being on the good guys’ side of it, it’s nice to have him on your team.
“For him to hit that home run to tie the game was huge. That was a big boost for us and we all followed in on that.”
CC Sabathia, without his best stuff, held the fort while pacifying a few cynics who cried over his shady October past. For a $161 million price tag, Sabathia won 19 games his first season in New York but entered 2-3 with a 7.92 ERA in five career postseason starts and a 10.93 ERA in losing his last three. He was touched for two runs on four hits in the third, but then retired 11 of his next 12 batters. His 113th and final pitch induced Denard Span to fly out to right for the second out of the seventh before he left to a thunderous ovation, a decibel level that jumped up a few octaves with a tip of the cap. The big lefty’s outing wasn’t pretty – two runs (one earned) on eight hits with a hit batsman, wild pitch and eight strikeouts – but during this time of year you’re never judged by style points.
“I was able to hold them down,” Sabathia said. “It got a little sketchy there I guess in the third, but I was able to come back and put up zeros like I have all year. And these guys have been scoring runs all year. That’s what I talked about [Tuesday], not try to do too much and let these guys take over the game.”