If there was any doubt that Derek Jeter was ready to return to the New York Yankees line-up yesterday (Sunday), it was very quickly dispelled.
The 39-year-old took just one pitch to get his eye in against the Tampa Bay Rays, smashing a Matt Moore fastball over the fence with his first at-bat in the first innings.
Jeter went 2-for-4 with a homer, scoring twice in a 6-5 victory that keeps the Yankees in with a chance in the NL East.
The Boston Red Sox now lead the division by 0.5 over the Rays, with Baltimore five back and the Yankees 7.5 away. The returning shortstop may once again be able to lift his team beyond what had looked possible this season.
"I said, 'Thank God,' because I didn't want to go out there and play in extra innings because I was tired," said the skipper in his post-match press conference.
“We need contributions from a lot of people. It is not like I'm some saviour."
Fans in the Big Apple might disagree, with the team’s struggles coming after Jeter missed the first 91 games of the season. He returned as a DH against the Kansas City Royals on July 11th, but strained his calf and has been out ever since.
The second coming against the Rays was much more significant, although the contribution of others shouldn’t be forgotten – particularly Alfonso Soriano’s 4-for-5 with a solo home-run and 3 RBIs.
If the Yankees are to make it beyond September, then more of the same will be required alongside a little bit of Jeter magic.