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.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.