Derek Jeter got a standing ovation – when he came on the field for his pregame wind sprints at the start of a very long day. He didn’t give fans more to cheer about, failing to gain ground on Lou Gehrig.
Jeter went 0 for 8 with a walk and remained three hits behind the Iron Horse as the New York Yankees swept a day-night doubleheader from the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 and 11-1 Monday.
“You’d like to get it over with,” Jeter said. “Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little bit better.”
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After a sparkling seven-inning pitcher’s duel between CC Sabathia and Matt Garza in the opener, Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in a three-run eighth. Mark Teixeira had a three-run homer in an eight-run third that broke open the second game and added a solo shot, boosting A.J. Burnett (11-8) to his first win since July 27.
New York had 24 hits, but none by Jeter on a day that ended with a spring-training-like slew of late-innings substitutes.
Flashes went off throughout the stadium whenever he came to the plate. Limited to a tying RBI grounder in the third, he came out for a pinch runner in the sixth inning of the second game and stayed stuck at 2,718 hits, leaving Gehrig to hold the team record for another day.
“You think about it, because that’s all you’re hearing about, especially when you’re on deck,” he said.
Jeter did surpass another Yankees great – with 2,117 games, he jumped ahead of Yogi Berra for third on the Yankees list behind only Mickey Mantle (2,401) and Gehrig (2,164).
New York (89-50) has won 11 of 14, matched last year’s victory total with more than 3 1/2 weeks to play and is 39 games over .500 for the first time since 2004. The Yankees opened a season-high nine-game AL East lead over second-place Boston and moved 6 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels for best record in the AL – and homefield throughout the postseason.
“We’ve been on quite a roll here for quite some time, and you want to continue it because we still haven’t won anything. We haven’t clinched anything,” Jeter said.
Fading Tampa Bay has lost six straight, its longest skid since dropping seven from July 7-13 last year. Making matters worse, slugger Carlos Pena broke two fingers on his left hand when he was hit by a pitch in the opener. Because he swung, he didn’t even get to first base.
“I knew when the ball hit me it was going to be bad,” he said. “You don’t take a 95 mph fastball on the finger and live to tell about it – or the finger live to tell about it.”
The All-Star first baseman, who may need surgery, leads the AL with 39 homers and finished with 100 RBIs.
“It’s very discouraging,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He was swinging the bat about as well as anyone I’ve seen this season.”
Sabathia matched his season high with 10 strikeouts and allowed one run, three hits and four walks. He is 6-0 with 2.31 ERA in eight starts since 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay on July 28.
Garza gave up only an unearned run, five hits and a walk, striking out seven. Even though his opponents’ batting average of .233 coming in was the best in the AL, he is 0-2 in eight starts since July 24.
“All I can do is go out there and pitch as well as I can,” he said.
Phil Hughes (6-3) pitched the eighth and Mariano Rivera, out since Sept. 1 with a sore left groin, struck out two in finishing the three-hitter for his 39th save in 40 chances.
“It responded real well,” Rivera said. “I’m not worried about it.”
Burnett watched Sabathia, then gave up one run, four hits and three walks in six innings, striking out eight. He had been 0-4 with 6.54 ERA in seven starts since winning at Tampa Bay on July 27.
“Any time you get to pitch behind that big man, you know, you want to put up his numbers,” Burnett said. “You just get inspired.”
Lance Cormier (2-2) lost the opener, dropping Tampa Bay’s bullpen to 2-9 since Aug. 6. Andy Sonnanstine (6-9) was pounded for eight runs, eight hits and three walks in 2 2-3 innings of the night game, inflating his ERA to 7.23.
“My arm was dragging. I couldn’t catch up,” Sonnanstine said. “Definitely today was probably one of the worst days of my life.”
Nick Swisher was hit on the left elbow by pitch from Jeff Bennett on a swing in the sixth inning of the night game. … While announced attendance for the night makeup of a June 5 rainout was 45,953, the turnstile count was 35,128. … Jorge Posada caught Sabathia for the first time since Aug. 18. … Teixeira has three multihomer games this season, 24 overall. … Tampa Bay is 1-7-7 in doubleheaders. .. Jose Molina (three hits, two walks in Game 2) reached base five times in a game for the first time in his career.