Fan returns Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit ball

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23-year-old Christian Lopez couldn’t wipe the smile off his face this afternoon. Of course, he was the lucky fan who caught Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, a solo home run that landed in the left field seats in the third inning.

Lopez, a Yankees’ fan, attended the game as a gift from his girlfriend. While he could have easily sold the ball for an estimated six figures, Lopez decided to return to the ball to Jeter.

Here was his explanation during an appearance on the YES broadcast of the game, courtesy of the New York Daily News:

“He deserved this,” Lopez said in an interview on the YES Network. “He worked so hard for this. He’s been in the league for so long. I’m not really the kind to take something away from him.

“He earned it.”

While Lopez insisted that he didn’t want anything in return, he hardly walked away empty-handed. He was given four seats in a premium Yankee Stadium suite for the rest of the season – including a potential run at the playoffs and World Series. And according to ESPN New York, he will also get signed baseballs, jerseys and bats, and a chance to meet Jeter.

Not a bad deal, but hasn’t Lopez learned anything from Jeter? He could have dragged out negotiations until they gave him a three-year, $51 million contract with an option for 2014. Sorry, had to do it. In all seriousness, this was a very nice gesture by Lopez and it looks like everybody walked away happy.

Stephen Strasburg homers, knocks in five runs vs. Braves

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Stephen Strasburg‘s bat was on fire Thursday night in Atlanta. He hit a three-run home run off of Touki Toussaint to cap off an eight-run third inning, then added a two-run single off of Toussaint in the fifth.

The last time a pitcher knocked in at least five runs was on April 11, 2014 when Madison Bumgarner homered and drove in five runs at home against the Rockies. Strasburg is just the seventh pitcher since 2000 to knock in five runs in one game. The others, along with Strasburg and Bumgarner:

  • Chris Carpenter (Cardinals) vs. Reds, October 1, 2009 (HR, 6 RBI)
  • Jason Marquis (Cubs) vs. Mets, September 22, 2008 (HR, 5 RBI)
  • Micah Owings (Diamondbacks) vs. Braves, August 18, 2007 (2 HR, 6 RBI)
  • Robert Person (Phillies) vs. Expos, June 2, 2002 (HR, 7 RBI)
  • Shawn Estes (Giants) vs. Expos, May 24, 2000 (HR, 5 RBI)

Strasburg is 3-for-3 overall as he also singled to lead off the third. Tonight’s homer marked the fourth of his career and he’s now up to 25 RBI.

Strasburg is performing well on the mound as well. At the time of this writing, he has held the Braves to a lone run on four hits and a walk with six strikeouts over four innings as the Nationals lead 10-1.