Derek Jeter doubles again, just two hits away from 3,000

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The Yankees lost for a second straight day, falling 5-1 to the Rays, but shortstop and team captain Derek Jeter moved one step closer to history.

Jeter entered the game sitting on 2,997 career hits after a 1-for-3 performance Wednesday in Cleveland. He got to work right away Thursday, rapping a double into the left-center field gap to open the bottom of the first inning. It was his third extra-base hit since returning from the disabled list Monday.

Jeter grounded out to third base in his second at-bat and was retired on a gorgeous play by Rays infielder Sean Rodriguez his third time up. He grounded out again in his fourth plate appearance then ended the contest with another groundout to the hot corner in his fifth and final time at the dish. The 37-year-old future Hall of Famer finished 1-for-5 on the night.

Jeter will enter Friday’s game against Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson with 2,998 career hits. He’s 1-for-2 lifetime against Hellickson, 6-for-25 (.240) against Saturday’s starter David Price and 17-for-54 (.315) against Sunday’s starter James Shields. The milestone should easily be met before the All-Star break.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.