How do you replace a legend? By going legend yourself. And Didi Gregorius, the heir to Derek Jeter’s throne, did something last night that even the Captain never did. Put the Bombers on his back and took the best pitcher in the American League to the boneyard TWICE.
The first inning shot made 38,000 fans at Progressive Field sit on their hands. The bomb in the third inning gave the Yankees all the room they’d need. And not satisfied to just let his bat do the talking, Didi flashed some leather and turned two unassisted; stomping out Cleveland’s 5th inning rally after the Tribe chased CC Sabathia and had the Yanks on the ropes, until Didi turned a double play.
How huge has this guy been this postseason? Especially when you consider that the Yanks have gotten nothing out of Aaron Judge or Gary Sanchez. And while technically Gregorius is hitting just .235 in October, nobody has swung it with more authority when it mattered the most. That 3-run shot in the wild card game that answered Minnesota’s fast start all but putting the dagger in the Twins. And those two bombs that chased Kluber last night were the only solid contact that the Indians ace gave up.
I know it’s blasphemy to compare anybody to Jeter, who played shortstop and won world titles for two decades in New York before taking his iPads and industrial sized Purell Tanks to South Beach. But the guy who came into the Bronx via trade looking like a glove-first, no-bat shortstop, who Brian Cashman thought might be just a platoon player. The guy who was asked to follow a legend at shortstop, has quietly put together three seasons that look an awful lot like vintage Jeets. 25 home runs this year more than Jeets ever hit. A better glove. And a flair for the dramatic just like Number 2 used to have.
Because when the Yanks needed it most, their shortstop delivered. Just like old times. Following the Captain in New York is an impossible ask, but this dude is doing just fine. Only question left to ask is, how long before he starts leaving gift baskets and a non-disclosure to sign in the morning before getting into that town car Jetes sent for them.