If Derek Jeter could have scripted his perfect ending at Yankee Stadium, it would have looked a lot like what actually happened Thursday night, but it wouldn't have happened if the Orioles hadn't worked so hard on the rewrite.
The Orioles had to rally from a three-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning just to give Jeter a chance to get back to the plate, and they did it with dramatic home runs by Adam Jones and Steve Pearce. It was probably the first time in history a sellout crowd in the Bronx was happy to see the opposing team stage a huge last-inning comeback.
Jeter's magical farewell also wouldn't have happened if Orioles manager Buck Showalter had not been in the moment. There was a pretty good case to be made for walking Jeter intentionally with a runner at second base and one out in a sudden-death situation, but not on this night. Reliever Evan Meek challenged him with the first pitch, and Jeter lined it into right field to score Antoan Richardson with the winning run.
He was mobbed by his teammates between first and second bases and then -- after the field was cleared -- walked out to shortstop, crouched for a moment to collect his thoughts, and acknowledged the crowd as he returned to greet several former teammates -- including Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Hall of Fame manager Joe Torre -- near the Yankees dugout.
All the while, the Orioles remained in their dugout and applauded during the lengthy ovation.
Jeter has always been popular with both his own and opposing teammates, so it wasn't surprising that the Orioles stuck around to acknowledge his final curtain call as an active player at Yankee Stadium.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Yankee who scored the winning run.