Derek Jeter rounds the bases after his historic homer, while David Price tries to comprehend what has just happened.With Derek Jeter on the cusp of 3,000 hits entering Saturday's game, Tampa Bay starting pitcher David Price didn't have any qualms about potentially yielding Jeter's 3,000th hit --under certain conditions, of course.
Conditions that ultimately went wayside with a hanging 3-2 curveball to Jeter.
"I didn't really care if he got it off me as long as he didn't drive in a run or score a run," Price said. "He did all of those things in that one at-bat. Good for him."
Price gave up the home run that resulted in Jeter's 3,000th hit during the Yankees' 5-4 win against the Rays on Saturday. Jeter went 3-for-3 against Price with a single, double and home run in three plate appearances against the talented southpaw.
It's the second time Price and Jeter have made history together, as it was Jeter who had the first-ever major-league hit against Price -- a home run to right-center on Sept. 14, 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium.
"I wasn't happy for the guy but I was happy for the guy," Price said. "Obviously I would've loved for it to be a single or something but it tied the game. That's the type of player he is, he steps up in the big moments. That's what he did today, 5-for-5 with the game-winning RBI, that's a pretty good day."
Before the game, as Price walked through the tunnels under the stadium, he saw boxes of T-shirts congratulating Jeter on becoming the 28th player to achieve 3,000 hits in his career. On the mound, with the fans roaring and giving Jeter a standing ovation, Price noticed the different markings on the balls signifying how close the Yankees' captain was to the monumental hit. History surrounded him no matter where he looked.
"I'm just spinning out there," Price said.
While Rays manager Joe Maddon didn't think the circumstances of the game affected Price, the lefty struggled against the Yankees while also struggling to retire Jeter, who had been just 6-for-25 against Price entering the game. Price lasted just five innings, giving up seven hits and four runs in a no-decision.
Jeter led off the bottom of the first with an eight-pitch at-bat that ended when he hit a bouncer between third base and shortstop that got through to the outfield to notch hit No. 2,999. In his second at-bat, Jeter once again fouled off pitches and worked the count full, before Price hung a 3-2 curve that Jeter smashed to left field to tie the game at 1 in the third inning.
As soon as the ball left the bat, Price crouched to the ground and watched the ball travel and knew he had become part of history.
"There's not a park in the league that's going to hold that ball," Price said. "I knew it was a home run."
As Jeter trotted around the bases and celebrated with his teammates, Price walked to his dugout and cooled himself off with a towel. The pitcher said that it was Jeter's moment at the time, and he didn't want to stand on the mound because he would have felt like he was ready to pitch.
When he went inside the dugout, teammate James Shields, who will pitch Sunday, took the opportunity to try and lighten the mood with Price.
"He came over to the dugout to give them time to celebrate and I told him that was a bomb," Shields said. "So he kind of chuckled a little bit."
The Yankees shortstop doubled against Price in his last at-bat, attacking the first pitch and driving it down the line for hit No. 3,001. Price complimented Jeter on his first two at-bats for fouling off pitches before getting his hits, and called him one of the most professional hitters in the game for how he attacks every at-bat.
Price had come to the park on Saturday hoping to stick to his game plan and help the Rays inch closer to the Yankees in the American League East. Instead, by the end of the day, Price ended up as the answer to a trivia question: Which pitcher yielded Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit?
"I'd rather not be the answer to that trivia question but I am. It's tough," Price said. "He's one of the best players to ever play baseball so he was going to do it off somebody and it just so happened to be me. It's part of it."