St. Petersburg, Fla. Remember when Derek Jeter was in a slump?
It wasn't long ago. Just last week, in fact, Jeter was answering questions about why his sharp grounders always seemed to find their way into someone's glove or how all those gappers had suddenly become popouts to short.
So how quickly can mediocrity become excellence again? Three days, apparently, as Jeter's third straight strong performance led the Bombers to a 7-5 win over the Devil Rays on Friday night.
Jeter's 3-for-5 performance included a ninth-inning solo home run and a smoked fifth-inning double, with a single thrown in, too. Saturday, he went 1-for-5 with an RBI single.
"Jeter looks very comfortable up there," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's got that look back."
Actually, Jeter claims he never lost his confidence, even as his average was languishing well below .200. With three straight three-hit games, however, his average has jumped from .189 all the way up to .221, though it dropped back to .220 Saturday.
"The last few days," Torre quipped, "I think he's sleeping a little better."
Said Jeter: "Why? Because I'm at home (in Tampa) now?"
Whatever the reason, Jeter's success is directly related to the rest of the lineup's production. Whether Jeter is hitting leadoff or No. 2, if he gets on base, he provides RBI opportunities to the unending list of thumpers in the middle of the order.
When he endured an 0-for-32 drought, it made national news, with reporters and fans all posing the same question: What's wrong with Jeter?
Now, that query almost seems silly. The Yankees lineup is crushing the ball and putting up absurd numbers, with Jeter leading the way.