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Tampa Bay Rays (49-39) At New York Yankees (51-35), 7:05 P.M.: Derek Jeter Countdown To 3,000 Continues

(Sports Network) - Is tonight the night?

Flash bulbs will once again be popping this evening when Derek Jeter continues his quest for 3,000 hits, as the New York Yankees play the second test of a four-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter doubled in his first at-bat in Thursday's 5-1 loss, but was hitless in four at-bats after that and enters tonight's matchup just two hits shy of becoming the first Yankee to reach the milestone with the club.

"You think about it just because everywhere you go there's signs and people are mentioning it," said Jeter, who will become the 28th player in major league history to reach 3,000. "After the first one, I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't think it was attainable today."

While four members of the 3,000-hit club played for the Yankees at some point in their careers -- Wade Boggs, Rickey Henderson, Paul Waner and Dave Winfield -- no player has achieved the feat while wearing pinstripes. Also, there has never been a player who has recorded his 3,000th hit at historic Yankee Stadium, past or present.

"This is history," Nick Swisher said. "You've got to take into consideration everything that's a part of it. This is something that no one in the history of the New York Yankees organization has ever accomplished. I think that's saying something."

Other than Jeter's two-bagger, the only time the crowd of 47,787 at Yankee Stadium had a chance to cheer for the home team came on Robinson Cano's home run in the sixth. It was the only mistake made by Jeff Niemann (4-4) in his 7 1/3 innings on the hill, as he gave up just six hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

"That was like Jeff Niemann prior to the injury last year, that's what I saw. He was pitch efficient," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

Ben Zobrist went 3-for-3 with two walks and finished a double short of the cycle, while B.J. Upton also homered and drove in three runs for the Rays, winners of two straight and four of six overall.

Bartolo Colon (6-4) yielded five runs on 10 hits and four walks in 5 2/3 frames to absorb his first loss since May 23.

Heading to the hill tonight for the Rays will be rookie right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who snapped a four-start losing streak his last time out. Hellickson beat the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, holding them to three runs and six hits in 7 1/3 frames to improve to 8-7 with a 3.21 ERA.

This will be Hellickson's first-ever start against the Yankees, but he has faced them twice out of the bullpen. Jeter has a single in two at-bats against the young hurler.

"The plan is not to let him get it," said Hellickson, who grew up a Yankee fan and actually named his dog Jeter. "That would definitely be something special. But I'm not going to be thinking about it."

New York, meanwhile, will counter with another one of its surprises this season in right-hander Freddy Garcia, who is 7-6 with a 3.13 ERA. Garcia was in line for the win on Sunday at the Mets, but Mariano Rivera blew the save. Garcia had allowed just one run in seven innings in that 3-2 setback.

Current Series

Rays lead the series 1-0

Thu 07/07 WP: Jeff Niemann (4 - 4)
LP: Bartolo Colon (6 - 4)
1 - 5 loss

Tampa Bay Rays
@ New York Yankees

Friday, Jul 8, 2011, 7:05 PM EDT
Yankee Stadium

Jeremy Hellickson vs Freddy Garcia

Mostly cloudy,rain. Winds blowing in from right field at 5-10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 75.


Reflections on 3000

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Sat 07/09 1:05 PM EDT
Sun 07/10 1:05 PM EDT