Derek Jeter returns to New York sitting on 2,997 career hits

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Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter talked his way into the starting lineup Wednesday evening in Cleveland and pushed a step closer to reaching one of baseball’s elite milestones: 3,000 career hits.

Jeter struck out on a tricky fastball from Indians right-hander Justin Masterson to open the game and then flied out to center field in the third inning. In the sixth he drew a walk, his first since returning from a three-week battle with a right calf strain.

The heroics finally arrived in the eighth.

Jeter tallied the 2,997th hit of his career in his final at-bat of the night, ripping a one-out double over the head of Indians right fielder Austin Kearns. He then advanced to third base on a groundout by outfielder Curtis Granderson but was stranded when first baseman Mark Teixeira was retired to end the frame. The Yankees lost to the Indians 5-3.

Jeter heads back to Yankee Stadium on Thursday for the start of a four-game series against the Rays. He’s in prime position to reach hit No. 3,000 in front of the fans who’ve cheered him on through thick and thin over the past 17-plus seasons. It should be quite an atmosphere this weekend in New York.

Jeter is 5-for-9 lifetime against Thursday’s scheduled starter Jeff Niemann, 1-for-2 lifetime against Friday’s starter Jeremy Hellickson, 6-for-25 (.240) against Saturday’s starter David Price and 17-for-54 (.315) against Sunday’s starter James Shields. Of course, small sample sizes such as these mean very little and every one of Jeter’s at-bats is going to be accompanied by postseason-like pressure. Past results matter not.

Jose Bautista is starting at third base for the first time in over four years

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Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is getting a rare start at third base today. How rare is it? Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae notes that he last started at third base on April 14, 2013 against the Royals.

Bautista has played some third base already this year. On April 27 against the Cardinals, Bautista pinch-hit for third baseman Chris Coghlan and stayed in the game at the position. Last Saturday, Bautista moved from right field to third base as part of a handful of defensive switches. Overall, he’s played four defensive innings at the hot corner this season.

The Blue Jays have had to get creative at third base while Josh Donaldson has dealt with a calf injury. Darwin Barney and Chris Coghlan have drawn most of the starts at third base, but catcher Russell Martin started there on Sunday and tonight we’ll see Bautista there.

Braves’ bullpen hasn’t allowed a hit to last 54 batters, setting franchise record

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The Braves announced on Tuesday, citing Elias Sports, that the bullpen set a franchise record, preventing the last 54 batters faced from getting a hit.

The last reliever to allow a hit was Josh Collmenter to the first batter he faced against the Blue Jays last Thursday. Since then, the bullpen has logged 15 1/3 scoreless, hitless innings with a 10/4 K/BB ratio. Here are the logs since Collmenter gave up that hit.

Date Opp. Pitcher BF IP H R ER BB SO
May 18 vs. TOR Josh Collmenter 7 2.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 18 vs. TOR Ian Krol 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 19 vs. WAS Jason Motte 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 19 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 19 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Ian Krol 2 0.2 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Jason Motte 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 20 vs. WAS Arodys Vizcaino 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 20 vs. WAS Jim Johnson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 21 vs. WAS Luke Jackson 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jason Motte 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 2
May 22 vs. PIT Jose Ramirez 3 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
May 22 vs. PIT Arodys Vizcaino 4 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
May 22 vs. PIT Jim Johnson 4 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 54 15.1 0 0 0 4 10

Despite the hot streak lately, the Braves’ bullpen still ranks in the middle of the pack in ERA at 4.07. Its 21.3 percent strikeout rate ranks 18th out of 30 teams and its 8.6 percent walk rate is ninth.