It appeared that Jeter was only going to get four at-bats Thursday; with two out in the bottom of the ninth, the Rays' Kyle Farnsworth struck out Brett Gardner to apparently close out the game for the Rays. But Farnsworth's pitch got away from Rays catcher John Jaso and Gardner reached base, bringing Jeter to the plate.
Jeter ran the count to 2-2 on Farnsworth before hitting a high chopper toward third baseman Sean Rodriguez, who made a nice throw to first baseman Casey Kotchman to get Jeter by about a step, not only denying him his 2,999th hit, but ending the game.
Friday night, the Yankees will again meet the Rays in the Bronx; Tampa Bay will send Jeremy Hellickson to the mound. In his career, Jeter has two at-bats against Hellickson with one hit, a single. The Rays will also be looking to close their deficit in the AL East; with New York's loss and the Red Sox win Thursday, Boston is now in first place, with the Yankees half a game behind and Tampa Bay 3.5 out.