Derek Jeter Shows He Is the Yankees' Leader

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IApril 16, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 11:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees runs to first base against the Kansas City Royals on April 11, 2009 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by G. Newman Lowrance/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees were embarrassed by the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night.

The score was 15-5, but the loss seemed even worse than that. The picture of Nick Swisher taking the mound made some laugh.

But some of the older Yankees weren't laughing.

The loss put the team under .500 for their road trip, and the way the Rays manhandled the Yankees made it look certain that the Bombers would return for their home opener with a losing record.

But over the last two games of the series in Tampa, Yankees captain Derek Jeter made his presence felt.

In those two games, Jeter had five hits and drove in four runs in two big wins.

In Tuesday's game, Jeter hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth that gave the Yankees their five-run lead. They had led only by one run going into that final inning, and with the Rays' speed and grit at the plate, one run is never going to feel safe.

But Jeter gave the Yanks a lead large enough to feel comfortable and allowed Mariano Rivera to stay in the 'pen, rather than coming in to save the win.

Then, on Wednesday, the game was tied in the ninth when Jeter came to the plate with Cody Ransom perched on second.

Jeter proceeded to hit a Troy Percival offering into left field for his second hit of the night. But more importantly, Ransom came home with the go-ahead run.

Rivera came in this time to get the final three outs, and the Yankees won their second series in a row to come home with a winning record.

Jeter proved in these last two games why he is the Yankees captain and why pressure makes him play better.