11/02/09 2:26 AM EST
Jeter providing critical spark atop lineup
Mr. November consistently producing on biggest stage
By Brittany Ghiroli / Special to MLB.com
But through the first four games of this year's Fall Classic, Derek Jeter has continued to do what he arguably does better than any player in history: consistently produce on baseball's biggest stage.
The man nicknamed "Mr. November" since he blasted a walk-off homer in the 10th inning of Game 4 in the 2001 World Series, Jeter opened his favorite month in typical fashion on Sunday night. In his first at-bat in the first World Series game since the calendar flip, Jeter put a momentary silence on the crowd of 46,145 assembled at Citizens Bank Park, singling to shallow center field on the second offering from starter Joe Blanton.
Damon's double moved Jeter over to third, and he scored on Mark Teixeira's ground ball to plate the first run of the game and continue his torrid pace among baseball's all-time World Series greats.
Jeter's first-inning run was his 30th career World Series score, tying him with Lou Gehrig and putting Jeter behind only Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Babe Ruth on the all-time list.
The Yankees' captain, who already leads baseball's all-time postseason lists in at-bats (549), hits (171), runs (97) and games played (136), went 2-for-4 on Sunday night and combined with Damon to provide a critical spark at the top of the lineup.
"That's the key [to winning the game]," Jeter said of the duo, who went a combined 5-for-9 with two RBIs and three runs scored. "That's our job, is to get on base and get things going."
And that's exactly what Jeter did, connecting for a one-out fifth-inning double to score Nick Swisher and help the Yankees -- who entered the frame tied -- reclaim the lead.
It's a sight Yankees fans have been grown accustomed to over the years, as Jeter has hit safely in 49 of 58 postseason games since 2002, including 20 multihit games. Never one to crack under pressure, Jeter's No. 2 jersey has become synonymous with clutch. He preaches never getting too high or too low and refuses to place more emphasis on any World Series game, regardless of the series standings.
"Every single game and every at-bat is huge," Jeter said.
It's an approach that has worked wonders in his seventh World Series. Jeter is hitting a team-leading .412 (7-for-17) with two doubles and three runs scored in the first four games, raising his career World Series average to .315.
Jeter's two hits on Sunday moved him past Gil McDougald and Phil Rizzuto and into a tie with Hank Bauer and Pee Wee Reese for fifth on the all-time World Series list, with 47 career hits.
Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.