Roughly three hours before first pitch against Colorado, Washington Nationals players were in the clubhouse relaxing as they typically do on game days. Some were watching the women’s World Cup game between Germany and Japan while tapping away on their iPads while others glanced occasionally at the Tampa Bay Rays-New York Yankees game.
But as soon as news had spread around the clubhouse that shortstop Derek Jeter had gone 4 for 4, including hit No. 3,000 on a home run, and now was at the plate trying to hit for the cycle, all eyes became transfixed as the Yankees captain came up for his final at-bat.
Batting practice and warm-ups could wait. Nationals players, as was probably the case in clubhouses around the country, weren’t about to leave and miss a chance to witness more history unfolding.
“No way he gets a triple in that ballpark,” said Nationals reliever Doug Slaten, who was watching with fellow relievers Todd Coffey, Cole Kimball, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.
Those members of the Nationals bullpen were particularly interested in the matchup between Jeter and Rays reliever Joel Peralta, who had Jeter down 0-1 after a four-seam fastball. Jeter got it to 1-1 before swinging and missing at nasty splitter that elicited gasps and groans from Washington’s group of relievers.
In the end, Slaten was right about the future Hall of Famer’s chances of hitting for the cycle. After becoming the first Yankees player to reach 3,000 hits, Jeter instead singled up the middle, allowing Eduardo Nunez to score what proved the winning run in a 5-4 triumph and becoming the first player to collect five hits at the new Yankees Stadium.