Rays-Yankees Preview

With his 3,000th hit behind him – and three more added on for

good measure – Derek Jeter has one more game before an All-Star

break he’ll happily take despite being voted in as a starter.

CC Sabathia won’t be choosing to skip the Midsummer Classic.

An All-Star snub despite leading the league in victories,

Sabathia tries to become the first AL pitcher in six years with 13

wins before the break Sunday as the New York Yankees look to follow

Jeter’s big day with another win over the visiting Tampa Bay

Rays.

The spotlight had been on Jeter for the past week as the captain

tried to become the first Yankees player to collect his 3,000th

hit, and after Friday’s rainout kept him at 2,998, he wasted little

time Saturday. Jeter reached the milestone with a third-inning

homer, then drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth with his fifth

hit of the afternoon to lift New York (52-35) to a 5-4 win.

“It would have been really, really awkward to be out there doing

interviews and waving to the crowd after the game if we had lost.

So that was going through my head in my last at-bat today,” Jeter

said. “If we didn’t win, it definitely would have put a damper on

things.”

Jeter and banged-up teammates Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez,

who has a slight meniscus tear in his right knee, won’t participate

in Tuesday’s All-Star game.

Sabathia (12-4, 2.90 ERA) wouldn’t have been able to pitch for

the AL anyway due to this Sunday start, but the 2007 AL Cy Young

Award winner wasn’t named to the team despite going 9-1 in his last

10 starts. He’s surrendered one run over 22 2-3 innings over his

last three outings – striking out 33 – after holding the Indians to

five hits in seven scoreless innings Tuesday in a 9-2 victory.

“I wasn’t thinking about the All-Star game, not at all,” said

Sabathia, who had already booked a family trip to the Bahamas over

the break. “I just wanted to help my team win. That’s my job.”

Sabathia is already the first Yankees pitcher since Tommy John

in 1979-80 with 12 or more wins before the All-Star break in

consecutive years. With a victory Sunday, he’d become the first AL

starter since Chicago’s Jon Garland in 2005 with 13 wins at the

break.

Facing Tampa Bay (49-40) could make that tough to pull off,

however. He hasn’t faced the Rays this season, but was 0-2 with a

4.33 ERA in his last four meetings in 2010, including a 10-3 loss

in the Bronx on Sept. 23 when he gave up seven runs over 5 1-3

innings.

During the day, though, Sabathia and the Yankees have been tough

to beat. Sabathia is 12-3 with a 2.42 ERA in 18 afternoon starts

since the beginning of last year, while New York is an MLB-best

25-5 in daytime this season.

Coincidentally, Sabathia’s mound opponent is perhaps the reason

he was left off the All-Star team. Bouncing back from a season in

which he had the majors’ 89th-best ERA, James Shields (8-6, 2.47)

was fourth in the majors (2.29) prior to his last two outings.

Shields has dropped both of those starts, including Tuesday’s

3-2 loss in Minnesota as he gave up three runs in six innings.

“I was fighting myself the whole entire game,” Shields said.

The right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.43 ERA in seven starts versus

New York the past two seasons, including a 6-2 home loss May 17 as

Rodriguez took him deep twice.

Shields won’t have to worry about facing him Sunday. Rodriguez

is seeking a second opinion on his knee before deciding whether to

have surgery, which could sideline the three-time MVP for a

month.

Nick Swisher could also sit again because of a sore left

quadriceps.