Derek Jeter began Thursday 74 hits shy of 3,000. He ended it the same way.
But The Captain still contributed to the Yankees’ 6-3 Opening Day victory over Detroit, hitting a line drive to center field in the bottom of the seventh to sacrifice home new Yankees catcher Russell Martin and extend the Bombers' lead to 5-3.
Thursday’s win was Jeter’s first Opening Day victory since 2008, the final season at the old Yankee Stadium.
“I didn’t even really know that,” he said.
The Yankees captain said Thursday was one of the coldest season-openers of his 16 in pinstripes. He compared it to the 1996 home opener which was played during a light snowstorm.
“It was freezing,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to the fans for hanging in there.”
Jeter finished the day 0-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI. But he wasn’t perfect in the field.
After Miguel Cabrera singled to open the second, Jeter flubbed a Victor Martinez short-hop to his left, giving the Tigers runners on first and second with none out. Cabrera scored later in the inning on a Jhonny Peralta sac fly. The ball was ruled a hit, but it was one Jeter could have knocked down.
The Yankees struck back in the bottom of the third with Mark Teixeira's three-run homer. Curtis Granderson then broke a 3-3 tie in the seventh with a solo homer off of ex-Yankee Phil Coke. Two batters later, Jeter drove in Martin with a shallow line drive.
“Russell can move pretty good for a catcher,” Jeter said.
Before the first pitch, the 36-year-old shortstop noted that each Opening Day at Yankee Stadium is “more special” than others.
He also said prior to the first pitch that he was done talking about his sub-par 2010.
“Last year is over. That’s the assessment of it,” Jeter said Thursday morning. “We’ve talked about it enough. I’ve talked about it all spring, all offseason. It’s over with, it’s done with. That’s the good thing about Opening Day … regardless of what happened the previous year, you put an end to it and you focus on the new year.
“Even coming into last season, last time we spoke about 2009 was right before Opening Day. You don’t bring it up again, you forget about it. It’s over with.”
Jeter, as you may have heard, is coming the worst season, statistically, of his career.
The Yankee shortstop set career lows in batting average (.270), on-base percentage (.340) and slugging percentage (.370).
Jeter and the Yankees went through offseason negotiations that were at times contentious. The end result was a four-year, $56 million contract with an option in the fourth year.
As for the 3,000-hit mark, Jeter said he would try to enjoy the process. But he wasn’t concerned with it on Opening Day.
“The closer you get, there’s probably more attention paid to it,” Jeter said. “As of right now it’s nothing to think about.”