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Derek Jeter goes 2-for-2, gets curtain call in final All-Star Game
About what you expected, right?
The 85th All-Star Game became almost entirely about Derek Jeter as soon as the fans' votes were tallied, so it wouldn't have felt right to the 40-year-old shortstop if he didn't contribute to his team. The retiring icon did, and quickly.
Stepping to the plate after a loud, long ovation in the bottom of the first -- preceded by Bob Sheppard's famous "Now batting for the Yankees . . ." introduction -- Jeter doubled into the rightfield corner and scored in a three-run first against Adam Wainwright.
"Of course he's going to get a hit," Jeter's teammate and All-Star Game rookie Dellin Betances said. "What else do we expect?"
The hit came on a 1-and-0 pitch Wainwright later said he intentionally grooved, though he backtracked on that later.
Jeter, who misspeaks in interviews, well, never, smiled.
"If he grooved it, thank you," he said. "You still have to hit it, so I appreciate it if that's what he did. Thank you."
Mike Trout, a New Jersey native who grew up a Jeter fan, tripled off the wall in right-center on his way to being named the game's MVP. Miguel Cabrera cracked a two-run homer with one out to make it 3-0.
"Chills, goose bumps, you name it," Trout said of observing Jeter's night. "Everything was running through my body."
Jeter singled in his second at-bat in the third against the Reds' Alfredo Simon, on an inside-out swing responsible for seemingly half of his 3,408 hits.
After Jeter took his position in the field in the fourth, American League manager John Farrell inserted Alexei Ramirez, giving Jeter his moment. Actually, around a three-minute moment.
The crowd stood and roared. The National League players emptied out of the dugout and stood applauding as Jeter left the field, accompanied by Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York."
After doffing his cap to the fans and the NL players, Jeter entered the AL dugout and hugged everyone, including Farrell last. With the fans still cheering, Jeter emerged one last time for the curtain call they begged for.
"I didn't know what was going to happen," Jeter said. "My back was turned and I heard [Robinson] Cano yelling. Usually when he yells I ignore him. And then I saw Ramirez coming out. It was a wonderful moment that I'm always going to remember. I appreciate John doing that for me. It was a special moment."
Farrell said he spoke to MLB's vice president of baseball operations and former Yankees manager Joe Torre, about how to handle Jeter's last game, which could not have started better for Jeter, who made a diving stop to his left in the top of the first on a ground smash by leadoff man Andrew McCutchen (the speedy Pirate barely beat Jeter's throw).
"You know what, he has a flair for the dramatic, as we know," Farrell said. "Two base hits and scores the first run, it worked out pretty well."
Upon being introduced and taking his place next to Farrell on the first-base line, Jeter tipped his cap to the crowd, teammates and opponents, all of whom were applauding.
In the bottom of the first, umpire Gary Cederstrom and catcher Jonathan Lucroy stepped to the grass behind the plate as Jeter was announced, giving him the home-plate area to himself. Wainwright had never faced Jeter and said Monday it would be "something I can always remember." He stepped down behind the mound and dropped his glove.
Jeter acknowledged the cheering fans and applauding players, then looked toward the mound with a smile as if saying, "Let's go already."
He still had work to do.
"This All-Star Game is about everyone who's here, it's not about one particular person," Jeter said. "I've always been uncomfortable when the focus is on me. I felt as though the focus should be on everyone who is in this game. For the players to do what they did . . . that was much better than something that was scripted."