Derek Jeter’s weekend return to action for the New York Yankees featured enough dramatics for a movie script.
Perhaps it’s fitting that Hollywood is close to where the Yankees captain will play next in the opener of what figures to be a difficult two-game set Tuesday night against the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jeter homered in his first at-bat Sunday in a 6-5 victory over Tampa Bay. He played shortstop for the first time as he returned after re-injuring his ankle July 11 in his season debut against Kansas City.
“It was fun - I’m tired,” said Jeter, who has hit safely in all six games against the Dodgers with nine hits in 25 at-bats. “I worked hard to try to get back on the field.”
New York (55-50) avoided a three-game sweep when recent acquisition Alfonso Soriano singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The injury-plagued Yankees have struggled offensively all season and own an AL-low .371 slugging percentage. They face Zack Greinke (8-3, 3.89 ERA) on Tuesday and major league ERA leader Clayton Kershaw the next night.
“We get a day off, we get to enjoy this one and we gotta go back to work Tuesday and it’s not going to get any easier out there as you’re going to see Greinke and Kershaw,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re going to have to shut them down, and they’ve been swinging the bats really well and we’re going to have to score some runs.”
Los Angeles (56-48) had won six straight starts by Greinke before he allowed four runs in seven innings Thursday in a 5-2 loss to Cincinnati. He was 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA in seven home outings before that one.
The right-hander is 2-4 with a 5.71 ERA in eight starts against the Yankees, with seven of them coming for Kansas City between 2004-08. Robinson Cano is 6 for 16 against him but has hit .160 with one RBI in his last seven games.
The Dodgers bounced back from Greinke’s defeat with three wins over the Reds over the weekend. Their starters yielded two runs over 21 2-3 innings, with Chris Capuano pitching 6 2-3 in Sunday’s 1-0, 11-inning victory.
Yasiel Puig’s walk-off homer gave him 10 in 48 games along with 23 RBIs and a .372 average.
“We’ve got a good thing going and we’re just going to keep it rolling,” reliever Brandon League said. “Puig’s contributed a lot, but it’s not only him. The best part of this is that it’s a different guy every day, and we’re not counting on one person.”
The Dodgers are a major league-best 26-6 since June 22 with wins in nine of 10. Their offense, however, only produced nine runs in the four-game set with Cincinnati.
Los Angeles has split 36 games when facing left-handed starters as it meets veteran Andy Pettitte (7-8, 4.39), who will try to avoid losing three straight starts for the second time in two months. He gave up fewer than four runs for the first time in eight outings Wednesday, surrendering two in six innings of a 3-1 defeat at Texas.
Pettitte is 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers.
Carl Crawford is a .326 hitter against Pettitte and could return after missing the last two games because of a high temperature.
The Yankees will activate infielder Jayson Nix, out since July 1 with a strained right hamstring.
These clubs split a June 19 doubleheader in New York. The Yankees last visited Dodger Stadium when they took two of three June 25-27, 2010.