Kevin Pillar did his best Friday night to steal the spotlight from Derek Jeter as the retiring New York Yankees shortstop began his final series in Toronto.
Pillar, who entered the contest with 64 major league games compared to Jeter’s 2,720, came up huge in the field to save a run in the top of the fourth inning at Rogers Centre.
Starting in place of Colby Rasmus in centre field, Pillar made a bee-line for Yankees catcher Brian McCann’s soft fly ball at the crack of the bat.
The 25-year-old, who plays the game with his heart on his sleeve, fully extended his body and snared the sinking ball as it was about to bounce on the artificial turf.
Martin Prado had singled two batters earlier and probably would have scored on the play had Pillar not secured the ball.
Pillar also shone with the bat Friday after going 1-for-6 in two games against Boston earlier in the week following his recall from triple-A Buffalo.
After grounding into a double play in the bottom of the third inning, he singled to right field in the fifth off New York starter Chris Capuano. In the seventh, Pillar hit a ball in the left-centre field gap for a double to score Colby Rasmus to cut the Yankees lead to 5-2. He later scored on a Melky Cabrera sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 5-3 and finished 2-for-4.
Pillar’s performance was his latest attempt to make the Blue Jays organization forget about his previous stint in Toronto.
Two months ago, Pillar lost his composure when he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning with the bases loaded against the Yankees.
He was demoted to the triple-A Bisons the next day, but returned Tuesday after outfielder Nolan Reimold was designated for assignment and later claimed on waivers by Arizona.
As for Jeter, the sure-fire Hall of Fame shortstop, the 40-year-old went 1-for-5 on Friday and was charged with an error in the seventh inning trying to throw out Jose Reyes at first base.
In his 20th major league season, Jeter is the Yankees’ career hits leader, a 13-time all-star and five-time Gold Glove winner.