10/22/2003 12:30 AM ET
Good ol' Yankee ingenuity
The postseason, as usual, is Jeter's Octoberfest
Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams meet the press: 300K | Audio
MIAMI -- Derek Jeter always seems to surprise his Yankees teammates and even manager Joe Torre with his heroic performances, but Tuesday night in Game 3 of the World Series he may have outdone himself.
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
He had the only three hits against Marlins starter Josh Beckett in 7 2/3 innings and scored after doubles in the fourth and eighth innings, producing New York's first two runs in a game the Yankees won, 6-1. The final score was not indicative of how hard fought the victory was. The Yankees lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday night.
"It took me 30 something years to get to the World Series," Torre said. "Jeter thinks it's an everyday occurrence. He had to work. Beckett is not easy. We watched him on TV. Our scouts couldn't praise anybody any higher than they praised him. I like to believe they're all special, but Jeter did it again. I've been watching this guy for eight years."
"He's my idol," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada said about Jeter. "He goes out and gets hit after hit after hit. He makes a lot of things happen. He really understands what he's here to do, that every at-bat and every pitch counts. He's so locked in when we get to the playoffs."
Jeter doubled down the left field line with one out in the fourth inning and ultimately scored after Beckett walked Jason Giambi and hit Hideki Matsui with a pitch to load the bases. A walk to Posada on an at-bat that included several borderline pitches pushed Jeter across the plate to tie the score, 1-1.
After Beckett whiffed Alfonso Soriano for the third time to open the critical eighth inning, Jeter took an outside pitch and grounded it wide of first base down the right-field line for his second double. Marlins first baseman Derrek Lee was playing off the bag, giving Jeter enough room to poke one down the line. That nifty piece of hitting put him in position to score the winning run.
Dontrelle Willis replaced Beckett and walked Giambi. Bernie Williams nursed a full count and flied to medium center, but Jeter tagged up and scampered to third, just eluding Juan Pierre's throw.
He scored moments later on Matsui's single to left.
The performance was at once dazzling and commonplace for a shortstop who has been the catalyst of six Yankees teams that have gone to the World Series since his 1996 rookie season. He was MVP of the 2000 World Series against the Mets.
"Beckett was throwing the ball extremely well," Jeter said about his 3-for-4 evening with three runs scored. "My first at-bat (a first-inning swinging strikeout) I swung at a couple of pitches up in the zone. After that, I just tried to get them down. I was able to get some good pitches over the plate and fortunately found some holes.
"The last one, the last double, his fastball cut a little bit. I was looking for a pitch away and it moved even further away. I was fortunate to hit it down the first-base line."
Asked why Jeter had so much success against Beckett while the other seven position players in the lineup struggled, Torre simply shrugged his shoulders.
"We were aware that Derek had the only (three) hits. We just wanted him to keep coming up again," Torre said.
Jeter is batting .417 (5-for-12) in the World Series and hit .295 in the first two rounds of the playoffs with two homers and three RBIs.
With two more wins, he'll get his fifth World Series ring in his eight years dressed in pinstripes.
"Every situation that you can have in the postseason, we've been through it," he said. "We've been in close games that we won and close games that we lost. I think the experience helps in terms of keeping your emotions under control.
"But we've been fortunate. I've been here for eight years. We've been in the postseason all the time, every year. It definitely helps when you're in certain situations you've seen before."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.