- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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CLEVELAND -- Derek Jeter saved his best for his last at-bat of the game, lining a double over the head of Indians
right fielder Austin Kearns in the eighth inning of Wednesday night's 5-3 Yankees loss to Cleveland
to move within three hits of the 3,000 hit mark.
Jeter will now have four games at home to reach the milestone before leaving for Phoenix, where he will be the starting shortstop for the American League in the All-Star Game on July 12.
"I was happy with my at-bats tonight," Jeter said. "I wish I would have got more today but it wasn't the case, so I'm definitely looking forward to going back to New York."
Jeter's double came in his fourth plate appearance against Indians starter Justin Masterson, against whom Jeter had a .417 career batting average (5-for-12) entering the game. But Jeter struck out swinging in the first inning, flied out to medium center in the third and walked in the sixth before finally squaring up a fastball in the eighth.
"His ball moves as much as anyone I've seen," Jeter said. "He was throwing 95, 96 mph with a lot of movement. He pitched outstanding. I was just happy to make good contact."
Jeter, who had gotten two hits Tuesday night to run his career total to 2,996, had to talk his way into Wednesday's lineup after manager Joe Girardi hinted strongly that he would rest his 37-year-old shortstop, who came off the disabled list on Monday after suffering a calf strain on June 13.
"I understand his thinking," Jeter said. "I understand you don't want to push it, so I get his reasoning but for me, I'd rather be out there playing and I'm glad I was."
Now, Girardi said Jeter is likely to play in all four games against the Tampa Bay Rays this weekend at Yankee Stadium, or at least as many as he needs to reach the milestone.
"There'll be a lot of flashbulbs going off, I'm sure. I think it's going to be great," Girardi said. "He's three hits away now. Let's hope he just gets all three tomorrow."
Jeter seemed excited about the prospect of getting No. 3,000 at home.
"Our fans have always been pretty good when they have an opportunity to witness something that hasn't happened," he said.
"They care a lot about the history of the organization, so I would anticipate them being animated. I don't know, but I probably think it will be kind of fun."
Jeter is close to becoming the 28th major leaguer with 3,000 hits. When the 37-year-old reaches the milestone, he will be the first player in New York's fabled history to do it having only played for the Yankees.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Derek Jeter saved his best for his last at-bat of the game, lining a double over the head of Indians right fielder Austin Kearns in the eighth inning of Wednesday night's 5-3 Yankees loss to Cleveland to move within three hits of the 3,000 hit mark.