Jeter can catch fire at any moment

Jeter can catch fire at any moment

NEW YORK -- The Iron Horse's record didn't budge -- yet.

Derek Jeter, who entered the Yankees' Labor Day doubleheader three hits shy of tying Lou Gehrig's franchise record of 2,721, went a combined 0-for-8 with an RBI and a walk as New York took both games against the Tampa Bay Rays. Still, the captain is within striking distance of surpassing Gehrig in any one game, possibly Tuesday's matchup against phenom David Price.

With Mom, Dad and girlfriend Minka Kelly of NBC's Friday Night Lights in attendance on Monday, Jeter went 0-for-4 in a 4-1 matinee victory and was the only starter without a hit in the Yankees' 11-1 rout in the nightcap.

"It's kind of hard to be frustrated when you are winning [games] by a lot of runs," Jeter said. "This isn't the first time I've gone a game without a hit. I've gone a day and not gotten a hit."

Jeter, who is enjoying a resurgent season, endured his first back-to-back hitless games since being blanked on July 19 and 20 against the Tigers and Orioles.

With a combined crowd of approximately 80,000 on their feet and electrified with each at-bat, was it possible the consistently calm Jeter was starting to feel a little pressure?

Not according to manager Joe Girardi.

"I have not seen that really bother him at any point in his career, where a milestone has gotten in his way," Girardi said. "This is probably the biggest one he's approaching so far in his career, and there will be many more as time goes on."

While some players revel in individual accolades, Jeter, a 10-time All-Star, has shied away from anything that puts the spotlight on him. For weeks, the captain has been patiently answering questions, forced to respond to the impending record he undoubtedly will seize from one of baseball's legends.

"You think about it because that's all you are hearing about," said Jeter, who admitted the record crossed his mind each time he toed the batter's box. "But like I said before, it's not like you're trying to do something unusual. You're just trying to get a hit."

Jeter, who is considered by many to be a candidate for the American League Most Valuable Player Award, entered Monday's game hitting .431 with 15 multihit games over his past 25 contests. But he was stopped cold in the matinee by Rays starter Matt Garza, who held the Bronx Bombers to a run on five hits over the game's first seven innings.

The nightcap, which featured struggling starter Andy Sonnanstine, looked to be a near lock for Jeter to inch closer to Gehrig's record. He entered the game batting .317 (7-for-22) with a double, a triple and a homer in his career against Sonnanstine.

After grounding out to shortstop to open the bottom of the first inning, Jeter had his best at-bat in the third, when he blasted Sonnanstine's slider up the middle. But second baseman Akinori Iwamura made a diving stop and flipped the ball to shortstop Reid Brignac to get the out at second and leave Jeter with an RBI fielder's choice.

Jeter flied out to left field in his next at-bat -- which also came in the eight-run third -- then grounded into a double play in the fifth and exited after drawing a walk in the sixth.

On Tuesday, all eyes will once again be on Jeter, who homered off Price last Sept. 14 to tie Gehrig's all-time record of 1,269 hits at the original Yankee Stadium.

While Jeter acknowledged that getting the record -- and the hype -- over with will be nice, Girardi was more nostalgic in taking in Monday's scene.

"He got a standing ovation running sprints pregame, so people are excited for him," Girardi said. "We're all excited for him, and every time he came to bat, people are anticipating getting one [hit] closer. It'll happen."

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Chad Gaudin (5-10, 4.98 ERA)
Gaudin is in line to make his third start as a member of the Yankees on Tuesday. The right-hander lasted just 3 2/3 innings in an 80-pitch effort on Thursday at Rogers Centre, allowing three runs on four hits in a no-decision as New York won, 10-5. Gaudin is 1-0 with a 4.08 ERA in six appearances (two starts) since being acquired from the Padres in August for cash considerations. He has not faced Tampa Bay this season.

TB: LHP David Price (7-7, 4.75 ERA)
Price took his seventh loss of the season on Thursday night, when he allowed the Red Sox four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. During that outing, an old enemy reared its ugly head, as Price used 104 pitches. Price has had live stuff in most of his starts, and fastball command has been his biggest improvement over the course of the past month. As a result, Price has been getting ahead in the count more often and walking fewer hitters. Price has a 2.45 ERA in two career appearances against the Yankees; he has a 1.59 ERA in one career start at the new Yankee Stadium.

Tidbits
It didn't take long for Brett Gardner to make his presence felt in the outfield. The center fielder, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to Monday's games, made a diving catch on Fernando Perez's fly ball in the fifth inning of Monday's matinee. "We've always said that one of his big gifts is his speed," Girardi said. "It's a different game if that ball falls. That's an unbelievable play that he made." ... Mariano Rivera recorded his 39th save in 40 opportunities in Game 1. It was also his 35th straight save, marking the longest active streak in the Majors. ... Right-handed setup man Phil Hughes tossed a scoreless eighth inning to notch his sixth victory in Monday's opener. It was Hughes' 12th straight scoreless outing, and he lowered his ERA to 1.08 in 33 relief appearances. ... Mark Teixiera had his third multihomer game of this season in the second game, hitting a three-run shot in the third inning and a solo homer in the sixth. It was the 24th time in Teixeira's career that he had gone deep at least twice.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• MY9

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 8-5, 4.41) vs. Rays (Jeff Niemann, 12-5, 3.67), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Off-day
• Friday: Yankees (TBD) vs. Orioles (Chris Tillman, 1-3, 4.66), 7:05 p.m. ET

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.