Why is the game where Derek Jeter TIED Lou Gehrig for all-time hits as a Yankee a classic and not the game where he actually passed him? Simple. The Orioles beat the Yankees 10-4 on the day Jeter passed Gehrig on the all-time hit list with a single in the bottom of the third. At that point in the game, the Yanks were up 3-1 and I'm sure the fellas at YES were already getting that one primed for Yankee classics. Then came Damaso Marte (long before he would get the groove back that he displayed in the postseason) and Edwar Ramirez who combined for one inning pitched, seven earned runs, seven hits and two walks. It was 7-4 after the top of the 6th and 10-4 after Ramirez was done in the seventh.
It also sealed the fate of the game as a Yankee Classic, since no one was going to bother watching a full game where the sole reason for watching was over after the third inning.
Luckily for YES, the Yanks managed to pull off a late comeback to win the game against the Rays the night before when Jeter tied Gehrig atop the Yankee hit list. The Yanks were losing 2-0 in the bottom of the 7th, shut down by the Rays' Jeff Niemann, when Jeter collected his third hit of the night to tie Gehrig. The crowd was electric. With the division seemingly in hand, the Jeter hit count was the primary focus of the crowd and they responded as expected, with a thunderous ovation when he finally caught the Iron Horse.
Niemann then allowed a single to Johnny Damon, but with two outs was able to strikeout Mark Teixeira to keep the shutout intact. However, one could argue that Jeter's hit woke up the crowd and the Yanks for the bottom of the eighth. Niemann came out to start the bottom of the eighth, still with a 2-0 lead, but surrendered a leadoff single to Alex Rodriguez. Rays manager Joe Maddon then lifted Niemann for lefty reliever Lance Cormier to face Hideki Matsui, who responded with a single to right, sending Rodriguez to third.
Nick Swisher followed with what seemed to be a possible double play grounder to first base. However, Rays first baseman Chris Richard double clutched then uncorked a wild throw to second base that sailed over the head of Jason Bartlett, covering second, and rolled into left field, allowing A-Rod to score and pinch runner (for Matsui) Jerry Hairston to advance to third.
Robinson Cano followed with a strikeout against new reliever Brian Shouse. Maddon went to his bullpen once again, bringing in Grant Balfour to face pinch-hitter Jorge Posada, batting for Brett Gardner. Posada, batting lefty against the righty Balfour worked the count and deposited a full-count fastball into the rightfield seats to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead and eventually...victory.
Better for YES, it gave them a pretty good game with a dramatic victory and Jeter's milestone hit that would be worthy of airing on Yankees Classics for years to come. One more thing, the hit wasn't the only milestone for Jeter on this night. He also stole his 300th career base in the first inning. Less heralded, but a nice achievement regardless. All in all, it was a game that might have been forgotten transformed by Derek Jeter into a memorable one for him and his fans.