Derek Jeter appeared in his final All-Star Game Tuesday night, as the American League defeated the National League 5-3 to secure home field advantage in the 2014 World Series. While the 40-year-old shortstop may be in the twilight of his career, he looked like the Jeter of old at Target Field in Minnesota.
Jeter led off for the AL, getting a hit in both of his at-bats. He started off the bottom of the first inning with a double to right field off NL starter Adam Wainwright. Jeter added a single to begin the bottom of the third inning in his final time at the plate, reaching base against Alfredo Simon.
Getting hits against the two starting pitchers was no easy feat. Wainwright has been so good in 2014 that he was given the start over Clayton Kershaw, who recently threw 41 scoreless innings and won last year’s Cy Young Award. Simon is in the midst of a breakout season, going 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA in the first half of the season.
It would be hard to script Jeter’s performance at the 2014 All-Star Game any better, and it appears that Wainwright may have done his best to ensure the New York Yankee had a memorable night. After Wainwright’s night was done, the Cardinals pitcher admitted to giving Jeter an easy pitch to hit.
"I was going to give (Jeter) a couple of pipe shots. If I had known he would hit a double, I would have changed my mind."
Wainwright later was interviewed by Fox’s Erin Andrews in the dugout and apologized for his statement, saying he wasn’t trying to give up a hit. The right-hander struggled in his one inning, allowing three straight extra-base hits to begin the game, including a home run to Miguel Cabrera.
If Wainwright did groove a fastball to Jeter, it might not be the first time a pitcher tried to help out a future Hall of Famer in their final All-Star Game. There has long been speculation that Chan Ho Park intentionally gave Cal Ripken Jr. an easy pitch to hit when the former Baltimore Oriole hit a home run in 2001.
Unlike Ripken, Jeter didn't go on to win the MVP award. Instead, it went to Mike Trout, who finished the game two-of-three with a triple and two RBI. While many expected Jeter to get the award in his last game, the honor could be viewed as a sort of passing of the torch to the next face of MLB.
"I think let Mike be Mike. I don't think people have to necessarily appoint someone to a particular position," Jeter said after the game. "He's got a bright future ahead of him. I don't know how much better he can get, but if he consistently does what he's doing, then he will be here for a long time."
Jeter, who's is set to retire at the end of the season, will finish his career with 14 All-Star appearances. He won the game's MVP award in 2000.