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Published: Thursday, 10/5/2006

Jeter now Mr. October in New York

NEW YORK - Move over, Reggie Jackson.

Make room for Derek Jeter, the New York Yankees' latest Mr. October.

Jeter, the popular team captain, all-star shortstop and leading candidate for AL league MVP honors, is building quite an impressive postseason resume.

He went 5-for-5 in New York's 8-4 victory over Detroit Tuesday night in Game 1 of the AL division series at Yankee Stadium.

Jeter was at his best against the Tigers.

He scored three runs, had two doubles and belted a solo homer to give manager Joe Torre his major league-record 75th career postseason win.

"How can you not like Derek Jeter?" Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Jeter padded his postseason record for runs (84) and hits (147), which includes 64 in the ALDS. He also belted his 17th homer and recorded his 48th RBI. That ties him with Jackson and Manny Ramirez for third in league history.

Jeter also made a brilliant play in the field. He started an inning-ending double play in the third inning by going deep in the hole to field Placido Polanco's grounder.

That play kept the game scoreless, and the Yankees broke the game open in the bottom of the inning with five runs.

Jeter started that rally with a hit to center that he stretched into a double with all-out hustle.

"Derek Jeter is Mr. October, there's no doubt about that," Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "He's as clutch as they come. I like to watch him play."

Just like Jackson, who still works as a special advisor for the Yankees, Jeter dominates in the playoffs.

If Jackson was the straw that stirred the drink, then Jeter has to be the olive.

He is good-looking and wealthy.

He is the Big Kahuna in the Big Apple.

Jackson, a Hall of Fame outfielder, socked 18 postseason homers and had a slugging percentage of .755 in the World Series en route to winning five rings with the Oakland Athletics and Yankees.

The 32-year-old Jeter, who grew up in Kalamazoo, Mich., is a four-time World Series winner with the Yankees.

"Mr. Clutch. Mr. Perfect. Mr. November. Mr. October. All those things really apply to him," said Jackson, who chatted with Jeter near the batting cage prior to Game 2 being called off last night due to rain.

"It's fun to watch him, like [Tuesday] night. It was a good game, but just a fabulous performance by a fabulous player. It was something that I'll enjoy and just take with me, keep with me and replay it in my own head."

Jeter, with 43 ALCS starts, trails only teammate Bernie Williams (47) in that category.

"I don't want to say he has a plan, but he just seems to relish this atmosphere," said Torre, who has been with Jeter since 1996. "He's been so big for us for 11 years here."

Jeter learned a long time ago that the ring is the only thing "The Boss" - George Steinbrenner - cares about.

"We've been in this position a lot," Jeter said. "We've been in a lot of postseason games. So you can't be afraid to fail. You always have to think positive. You're not always going to come through. There's been plenty of times that I haven't. But when I'm in that situation, I feel as though I'm going to produce, or come up with a hit or make a play."

Here in Gotham, Jeter is more popular than Batman.



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