The fans seemed to collectively hold their breath when captain Derek Jeter was hit in the left hand by a pitch from Orioles reliever Jim Miller. The shortstop bent over grimacing and was attended to by manager Joe Girardi and head trainer Gene Monahan while walking toward first base before making a right turn and heading for the dugout, drawing boos from the crowd of 54,662.
Immediate questions of whether Jeter would be able to play in Sunday's Yankee Stadium finale raced through the stands. But netative X-rays revealed that there was no break in the bone, and in the Yankees' clubhouse following the game, Jeter, wearing a small bandage wrapped around his hand, left no doubt that he would take the field during the final contest at baseball's Cathedral.
When asked if there were anything that could keep him off the diamond on Sunday, the Jeter said, "Probably not. Regardless, I could probably just go out there and do something, stand there and take some pitches. But no, I'm going to play tomorrow."
Jeter was serving as New York's designated hitter and was replaced by pinch-runner Brett Gardner, known for his speed. Gardner wasted no time in successfully attempting to steal second base, and when second baseman Robinson Cano smacked a ground ball to center field, it was Gardner who crossed the plate to score the game's lone run to give the Yankees a win.
A similar situation took place on May 22, when Orioles right-hander Fernando Cabrera hit Jeter in almost the same spot on the pinkie of his left hand. But Miller said there was no intention to throw at Jeter, as the ball simply slipped away.
"We were trying to go in with the fastball, and it just got away," Miller said. "It got away from me and ran back up and in. Obviously, in that situation -- the bottom of the ninth inning and nobody on, nobody out -- I'm not trying to hit a guy to put the go-ahead run on base. It was just a fastball that got away from me.
"The last thing I want to do is put the leadoff man -- the winning run -- on base. And sure enough, that was the one that scored and cost us the ballgame."
Girardi said that while Jeter's hand would be sore on Sunday, he did not expect it to keep the captain out of the starting lineup. The manager did not suspect that the throw was intentional, but he said that sort of moment is always frightening, whether it occurs on purpose or not.
"It's extremely scary, and it seems to happen against this club more than the other clubs," Girardi said. "That's the frustrating part. You know that they're not trying to hit anyone in a 0-0 game, but it's unfortunate."
Jeter has been known to play through injuries, and he has felt the atmosphere from the crowd during the final homestand at Yankee Stadium.
"It's been a lot of fun this last week," Jeter said, "and I'm sure tomorrow will be even better."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.