10/30/09 1:47 AM EST
For Jeter, one W trumps three K's
Shortstop pooh-poohs his most strikeouts in Series game
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
Don't misunderstand, Jeter likes striking out about as much as any baseball player. But the only line New York's leadoff batter was paying attention to following Thursday's game was the line that read: Yankees 3, Phillies 1.
"I'll strike out three times every day if we win," Jeter said. "I can care less. ... We are trying to win."
In that case, mission accomplished. The Yankees took a dominant start from A.J. Burnett, sprinkled in solo homers from Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui and rode a six-out save from Mariano Rivera to a series-evening victory in front of a crowd of 50,181 at the new Yankee Stadium.
And in between, four-time World Series champion Jeter found himself breaking a personal postseason record, striking out three times in a single Fall Classic game for the first time in his career.
"Thanks for bring that up," said a chuckling Jeter.
The statistic is impressive if only to illustrate how consistent he has been in the World Series. Jeter entered Thursday's game with a career .316 batting average in 33 Fall Classic contests, averaging just over a strikeout per game.
On Thursday night, Pedro Martinez sent Jeter down swinging in the first inning and looking two frames later, before Jeter broke through for a double in the fifth inning.
"Pedro's probably the smartest pitcher I've faced since I've been up," Jeter said. "He has a good sense for knowing what's working. He doesn't have to throw 98, 99 miles an hour to be successful. He mixes his pitches up."
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Jeter's strikeout in the seventh inning off reliever Chan Ho Park was particularly puzzling. With runners on first and second and no outs -- and a Yankees run already across -- he bunted foul on Park's first pitch. After taking a fastball for strike two, Jeter was called out when his two-strike bunt went foul.
While Jeter was given the bunt sign on the first pitch of the at-bat, he didn't check the sign with two strikes and made the move on his own.
"You know, he felt that he could do the job," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "And Derek Jeter is a very smart baseball man. If he feels he can do the job in that situation, I'm not going to bark at him. He felt he could get it done, and he didn't get it done."
It wasn't all doom and gloom for Jeter on Thursday night, as his fifth-inning double marked his 43rd career World Series hit, tying him with Lou Gehrig for ninth all-time. It was also his eighth double in the Fall Classic, tying Gehrig, Lonnie Smith and Duke Snider for sixth all-time. He has hit safely in 11 of his past 12 postseason games.
And earlier in the evening, he was the recipient of the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.