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.
An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.
As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.
While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.