CLEVELAND (AP) — The quest for 3,000 career hits hasn’t been easy on Derek Jeter. Far from it.
But now that he’s so close to a milestone he won’t have to share with anyone in the Yankees’ incomparable history, he hopes that changes.
Jeter got two hits, moving him within four of 3,000 and CC Sabathia took out any anger for being snubbed as an All-Star by striking out 11 in seven shutout innings, leading New York to a 9-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
Jeter’s ascent on becoming the 28th major leaguer — and first Yankee — to reach 3,000 hits has been difficult for the 37-year-old. His play has been scrutinized as never before, and the 12-time All-Star recently missed three weeks with a calf injury.
“I haven’t been talking about this too much,” Jeter said, surrounded by two dozen reporters and an HBO camera crew chronicling his bumpy path to 3,000. “There’s been other things in the media, so it’s kind of hard to enjoy it when there’s a lot of negativity that’s out there.
“Hopefully I’m going to be able to enjoy it these next few days,” he said.
Jeter doesn’t know yet if he’ll play in Wednesday’s series finale. Yankees manager Joe Girardi wants to give Jeter, who has played four straight days, some rest and might sit his captain before the team returns to New York to open a four-game series against Tampa Bay on Thursday.
“I want to play,” said Jeter.
Girardi plans to “sleep on it” before announcing his plans.
“I want to talk to him, think about it and I’ll go from there,” said Girardi, who seemed to be leaning toward sitting Jeter on Wednesday. “He’s four hits away, and as I’ve said, my concern is us winning ballgames and him being healthy.”
Girardi said he has not gotten any pressure to keep Jeter out until the team gets to New York, so he can get his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium.
“No one has ever said a word to me about where he should do it,” Girardi said.
Curtis Granderson homered twice for the Yankees, who had eight players with at least two hits.
Sabathia (12-4) allowed five hits, walked two and overpowered the team that drafted him in 1998 and traded him 10 years later. Despite leading the league in wins and going 9-1 in his last 10 starts, Sabathia was left off the AL roster for the July 12 All-Star game in Phoenix.
Granderson hit a two-run homer in the second and solo shot in the fourth off Carlos Carrasco (8-5), who lasted just four innings.
Sabathia hasn’t publicly complained about his All-Star omission, but the left-hander has to wonder what else he has to do to make the squad. He dominated the Indians, who put two runners on to start the fifth before Sabathia struck out the side on 10 pitches.
He also struck out three in the fourth and seventh, and has 33 Ks in his last 22 2-3 innings.
“I wasn’t thinking about the All-Star game, not at all,” Sabathia said. “I just wanted to help my team win. That’s my job.”
Sabathia saved New York’s bullpen, which was without closer Mariano Rivera. He missed his second straight game because of a sore triceps muscle and hopes to be back for the series finale. Girardi said he was encouraged that Rivera said his arm felt better.
“If he had gotten worse, I would have been concerned,” he said.
Indians All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera left in the fourth with a sprained right ankle. Manager Manny Acta said Cabrera, who rolled his ankle after making a leaping throw in the third, is day to day.
“We’ll see how he shows up (Wednesday),” Acta said. “It’s nothing serious. He tried to grind through it. You could see he was favoring the other leg and he was hurting. We appreciate him trying to stay in there, but we have to think long term here.”
Jeter returned to the lineup on Monday after missing three weeks with a calf injury. He went 0 for 4 in his return, but looked more like one of the game’s superstars in his second game.
The Yankees’ captain singled in his first at-bat, hitting a slow roller toward third that Orlando Cabrera charged but couldn’t make a barehanded pickup as Jeter barreled down the line. In the second, Jeter doubled home two runs off Carrasco, who had pitched seven shutout innings against New York on June 13.
Jeter also made a nice defensive play in the sixth, stabbing a grounder behind second before making a spin and throw to first to get Orlando Cabrera.
“It’s great to see him get into the flow,” Sabathia said of Jeter. “That double was hit hard. Going for 3,000 hits in the same uniform, the Yankee uniform, is big, exciting. We’ve all been pulling for him, actually, every time up the whole year. It is just exciting to see him back.
“That play he made where he went behind second base was big, too,” Sabathia added.
Granderson’s two-run homer in the second made it 5-0, and the slight but powerful center fielder led off the fourth with his 25th homer. He’s just the fifth Yankee in the past 50 years to hit at least 25 homers before the break, joining Mark Teixeira (25, this season), Alex Rodriguez (30 in 2007), Tino Martinez (28 in 1997) and Jason Giambi (27 in 2006 and 26 in 2003).
Jeter’s two-run double highlighted the Yankees’ five-run second off Carrasco, who nearly worked his way out of the big inning without giving up anything.
New York loaded the bases with one out before Carrasco got No. 9 hitter Francisco Cervelli to hit a tailor-made, inning-ending double play ball to shortstop. Asdrubal Cabrera flipped it to second for the force, but second baseman Cord Phelps threw a one-hopper that first baseman Carlos Santana couldn’t handle.
One run scored on the play, and instead of being in the dugout, Carrasco had to face Jeter, who made it 3-0 by lacing a two-run double into the gap in left-center.
It’s a double-play ball,” Acta said. “We should turn it. We’re all human and make mistakes, but we have to turn that one. No excuses. I’m sure he turns that nine out of 10 times, but he didn’t do it today and it ended up hurting us.”
NOTES: Sabathia is the first Yankees pitcher with 12 or more wins before the All-Star break in consecutive years since Tommy John did it in 1979-80. … Sabathia has 25 career double-digit strikeout games. … The Indians are expected to activate 1B Matt LaPorta from the disabled list. He’s been out since June 18 with a sprained right ankle. … Zach McAllister, 8-3 at Triple-A Columbus, will start Thursday in Fauston Carmona’s spot. … Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano, on the DL with right elbow inflammation, threw a bullpen session of only fastballs. Manager Joe Girardi said Soriano could return later this month. … Yankees 3B Eric Chavez, in Florida rehabbing his bad back, was sent to New York after sustaining an abdominal strain. … The Indians believe rookie RHP Alex White will pitch again this season. He’s back in Cleveland being examined by doctors. White was impressive in three starts before hurting his finger.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)