Derek Jeter’s calf injury and ensuing DL trip definitely threw a wrench into his reaching the 3,000-hit milestone in the near future. Given Jeter’s flair for the dramatic and the way the Yankees hit Rangers pitching during the first two games, it would have been fun to see what could have been, especially at home.
Jeter’s two most recent milestones occurred at home. he benefited from home scoring when got his 2,000th on May 26, 2006 against the Kansas City Royals, and he broke Lou Gehrig’s franchise record for hits at home on September 11, 2009 against the Orioles.
Another thing that would have been cool: watching Jeter vie for history against the Cubs. Jeter has the most hits of anyone in interleague play, so in a way, it would have been fitting for him to reach 3K over the next batch of games. In addition, Saturday will mark six years to the day that Jeter launched the first and only grand slam of his career to date, a sixth inning shot off of Joe Borowski.
And there is precedent for the Yankees making history during interleague play. A banner year for this was 2003, when first, the Yankees were no-hit by six Houston Astros pitchers in the Bronx. Two nights later, Roger Clemens registered his 4,000th strikeout and 300th win against the Cardinals.
Clemens’ previous start, however, took place in Chicago, against Kerry Wood. It was Clemens’ third chance at 300. It was the marquee game in a series that marked the Yankees’ first visit to Wrigley Field since the 1932 World Series and Babe Ruth’s “called shot”. The Yankees beat Carlos Zambrano in the Friday afternoon opener, and the stage was set for the power matchup on Saturday. Clemens had an upper respiratory infection and there was doubt as to whether he would even start. He did, and he left the game in the seventh inning with a lead and two men on base, giving way to the immortal Juan Acevedo. Acevedo is immortal for what happened next. He delivered a first-pitch fastball to Eric Karros that was promptly returned to Waveland Avenue, and a 2-1 lead was suddenly a 4-2 deficit. That was the final. The following night, the Cubs chased Andy Pettitte after 1 2/3 innings and despite a valiant comeback effort against Mark Prior, it wasn’t enough.
Fast forward to today, where the Yankees head to Chicago coming off a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers. They’re currently riding their sixth three-game win streak of the season. Only once, though, have they carried that streak past three. They’re not facing Big Z, Wood and Prior in succession; rather, it’s Doug Davis, Ryan Dempster, and Randy “Please don’t call me Boomer or Kip” Wells. With the Cubs struggling as badly as they are, this could be a weekend where the Yankees add to their winning percentage.
Sadly, no history to watch out for in this series. Only the moments to reflect upon. While the feeling of the games might be empty, at least the stands at Wrigley will be full.