BOSTON — Derek Jeter sped down the first-base line for a chop single over the pitcher’s head. His 3,464th hit may have been the last play — and injury — of his career.
“He probably felt it a little bit in his hamstring,” New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said after a Sept. 27 10-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. “He didn’t say he was injured, but we’ll see.”
Jeter said before the series that he would be the designated hitter on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28 to finish his 20-year career, but Girardi said, “I’ll text him in the morning and see what he wants to do.”
Jeter walked out of the clubhouse without a noticeable limp and, of course, would have plenty of time to recover. He didn’t talk with reporters. Girardi said he planned to give Jeter just two at-bats and lifted him for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning after he went 1-for-2.
Boston chased Masahiro Tanaka (13-5) during an eight-run second inning that backed Joe Kelly (4-2). Tanaka made a windmill motion with his right arm as he left the mound in what at times can be a sign of elbow trouble, but Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild said he was healthy.
Tanaka allowed seven runs — five earned — in 1 2-3 innings, the shortest of his 20 starts with the Yankees. He pitched 5 1-3 innings last Sunday in his return from 2 1-2 months out while rehabilitating a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
“Sometimes the second time out is a little different, getting back into the flow of everything,” Rothschild said.
After sitting out the Sept. 26 series opener following his emotional Yankee Stadium finale the previous night, Jeter returned to his usual second spot in the lineup but as the designated hitter, not the shortstop. He received standing ovations before each at-bat as fans chanted “De-rek Je-ter! De-rek Je-ter!”
He struck out on three pitches in the first — a called strike on the outside corner, a foul down the first base line and a swing. In the third, he hit a high bouncer over Kelly’s head. Third baseman Garin Cecchini raced across to catch the ball but couldn’t make a throw.
When Jeter’s turn came in the fifth, Francisco Cervelli was booed when he pinch hit and grounded into an inning-ending double play. “Normal at-bat, nothing crazy,” Cervelli said. “I think in his career you never see someone pinch hit for him.”
If Jeter plays Sept. 28, it would be his 153rd game at Fenway Park, breaking a tie with Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle for most among Yankees.
With the loss, the Yankees (83-78) ensured they will have declining wins totals in three straight seasons for the first time since 1986-90.
Kelly allowed four runs in 7 1-3 innings. “I feel very good about Joe’s presence in our rotation,” Manager John Farrell said of the right-hander obtained from St. Louis at the trade deadline. “It’s premium stuff.”
(HOWARD ULMAN, AP Sports Writer)