The first pitch was delivered and Derek Jeter swung. He connected and the ball took flight. Off toward right field. Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Ray outfielder, turned, sprinted backwards, looked up, leapt but to no avail. The pitch was gone and there was Derek Jeter, the captain, rounding the bases after hitting a home run on the first pitch of his first game back from the DL (second of the season). Joe Girardi, in his post-game comments on YES Network, put it best when he said, "The guy's a movie."
When it comes to Derek Jeter it's easy to wax poetic. Between the flip play, diving into the stands, a HR for his 3,000th hit and countless other moments, it seems as if he has always provided a boost when the Yankees needed one. Sunday was no exception. Fresh off being shut out on less than 100 pitches by yet another Tampa Bay Ray pitcher, the Yankees needed something. They got that something when Jeter stepped into the batter's box and sent a Matt Moore offering over the short right field porch.
Although there were lots of heroes in this game, from the bullpen giving Girardi four solid shutout innings to Alfonso Soriano having a four hit day including a 2R HR and the game winning walk off single in the bottom of the ninth inning, it seemed as if Jeter gave the team just the spark they needed right from the beginning.
With five games against National League teams coming up after the off day, Jeter's performance was extremely important. It's true that Jeter can't win ballgames by himself and Yankee fans can't expect such heroics on a nightly basis. However, in a year when so much has gone wrong, it was refreshing to watch Jeter run out to shortstop, acknowledge the Bleacher Creatures and lean in as a Yankee pitcher delivered a pitch. It was phenomenal to watch his patented inside out swing send a pitch out to right field for a hit to kick start the Yankees offense.
Maybe now the Yankees season, seemingly sputtering for the past two months, can take a turn for the better. With a lengthened lineup with Jeter following Brett Gardner and added power in Soriano plus Curtis Granderson due back in August, this season isn't over yet.