ANAHEIM, Calif.—Derek Jeter gave the Los Angeles Angels’ fans something special to remember him by in his final game at the “Big A.” And he received something equally special in return.
Jeter ended a home run drought of 161 at-bats in his final regular-season game against the Angels, and the New York Yankees kept Hector Santiago winless in seven starts with a 9-2 victory on Wednesday night.
Vidal Nuno (1-0) allowed a run and four hits in 6 13 innings, struck out three and retired 14 of his last 15 batters. The left-hander’s only other victory in seven big league starts was May 13 of last season, when he pitched five scoreless innings of three-hit ball at Cleveland in a 7-0 decision.
Unless both clubs meet in the playoffs, this was Jeter’s swan song against the Halos, who dropped two of three in the Bronx 1 1-2 weeks ago. Jered Weaver, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Howie Kendrick carried a 12-foot-long pinstriped paddleboard with Jeter’s No. 2 and the Yankee logo to the middle of the diamond and presented it to him following a milestone-studded video tribute as the sellout crowd of 44,083 roared its approval.
“That was a cool gift. I thought that was awesome. I can use that in my backyard,” Jeter said with a grin. “But I don’t expect something everywhere I go. I mean, this was a surprise to me. The fans have been awesome here from the first game of the series. It’s something that you’ll remember, and I appreciate it. I’ve played a lot of games here in the regular season and post-season, so I have fond memories of playing in Anaheim.”
It was the second time in two years that the Angels’ management went out of the way to honour a member of former manager Joe Torre’s “Core Four.” Last season it was Mariano Rivera, who retired as the all-time saves leader and received a painting of himself.
“Mo’s different from me,” Jeter said. “I play every day, so I have to go out there and play (after the pregame ceremony). Mo got massaged for five innings and went out on to the bullpen in the seventh, so it’s completely different.”
Jeter made it 6-0 in the second with a two-out drive to left-centre for his 257th career homer and first since July 28, 2013, against Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore at New York. In Monday’s series opener, the Yankees’ captain doubled to end a drought of 55 at-bats without an extra-base hit.
“It’s good to get one,” Jeter said. “I’m not catching Babe Ruth or anything, but at least you’d like to get one. The important thing is that we got a win. It was a good game for us in a lot of different ways.”
Eleven of Jeter’s last 12 home runs have been solo shots, including one against Santiago when he pitched for the White Sox in August 2012.
“When he came up to the plate the first time, I kind of gave him a little head nod, like ‘Hey, we appreciate what you’re doing here.’ But then you just battle, man,” Santiago said. “I felt like I made a good pitch to him his next time up. He’s gotten me in the past on off-speed stuff, so I just went away from that. It was one of the better cutters I’ve thrown my last seven starts, and he got me.”
Jeter got a standing ovation before his final at-bat during the Yankees’ three-run eighth. He hit a fielder’s choice comebacker to reliever Cory Rasmus for a force at the plate after a two-run single by John Ryan Murphy, and Carlos Beltran added a sacrifice fly.
Santiago (0-6) was charged with six runs, five hits and three walks in 2 1-3 innings. Four of the runs were unearned, the result of errors by Santiago and right fielder Cowgill.
NOTES: One day after the publication of Rivera’s book, “The Closer: My Story,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi sidestepped questions about the combustible content—which included Rivera’s opinion that Boston’s Dustin Pedroia was a better second baseman than ex-teammate Robinson Cano. “Those are Mariano’s comments, and it’s probably why I chose not to write books,” Girardi said. “I had plenty of opportunities with some of my experiences, but right now I just don’t think it would be a good idea.” … Jeter’s first game in Anaheim was May 27, 1996, when he batted ninth and went 0 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and two walks in Andy Pettitte’s 16-5 win over future Yankee Jim Abbott.