Who would have believed it ?
In fact, the Yankees have been considering this for quite some time now, except Gardner’s successors on the pitch continue to ignite and the man himself proves to be as durable as a Galapagos tortoise every year. Friday night at Yankee Stadium, however, the struggling 37-year-old started his shift in the eighth inning and provided a full week of impact in just four frames, leading the Yankees to a whopping, 3-2, 11- Win the victory over the Mariners by starting the equalizer rally and finishing the end-of-match race.
“It’s funny he didn’t start. He came towards the end of the game, ”said Giancarlo Stanton, who delivered a hit himself, of his teammate. “It shows how huge it ended up being, that he had to stay locked up and help us out there. “
“Yeah, maybe a little,” Gardner said, in response to a question about whether he was in a rush to get in mid-game, “but mostly a game like tonight. To be able to walk into a big place like that and be confident in this situation, tonight I was able to do a really good job with it. You never know when your name might be called, so you just have to be prepared.
With their fourth straight win and 19th in 27 games, the Yankees (60-49) closed within three games of the Red Sox (64-47) losing for the American League’s first wildcard slot and, in sign of AL East’s competitiveness, they avoided dropping to fourth place behind the Blue Jays in fuego (58-49), who beat Sawx on Friday. They did so by relying on a fleet of nine pitchers, starting with opener Wandy Peralta and ending with victorious rookie Albert Abreu, as a COVID-19 byproduct sidelining at both Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery while Domingo German sits on the injured list with a sick right shoulder.
The Yankees’ intermittently revitalized roster, however, achieved nothing in seven innings, scoring just three hits (all singles) and two goals over Seattle starter Marco Gonzales (20 strikeouts) and veteran reliever Joe. Smith (a withdrawal). Then Gardner pinched for the recent addition of Jonathan Davis (who started at center field) to start the eighth against old pal Diego Castillo, who was recently acquired from the Rays.
Gardner walked seven lengths against Castillo and moved around the bases when DJ LeMahieu walked in and Anthony Rizzo was hit with a pitch, before Aaron Judge crushed a sacrificial fly. Stanton finished the set relying on a double play, only to score two huge innings later, the game almost over, bringing Gardner home with the tie on a center-right single.
Then came the 11th, Abreu preventing the M’s from scoring at the top of the frame, only for Gleyber Torres (shortstop pop) and Kyle Higashioka (strike) failed to advance ghost runner Joey Gallo against the Kenyan Middleton pitcher. This brought Gardner.
The 14-year-old Yankee fell behind, 0 and 2, before looking at a pair of balls and then piercing a Middleton fastball into centerfield. The athletic Gallo returned home to claim the victory as the Yankees came out of the dugout and hugged Gardner between first and second.
“Needless to say he is so revered and respected in [the clubhouse] Boone said of Gardner. “I think that makes this one even more special. “
For the season, quite possibly his last, Gardner now has a .199 / 0.319 / .305 slash line. It has been a difficult task, but he continues to tackle every individual at bat.
“It’s a really good time for me, a good time for us, to be able to move over to this place for the guys and come out that one,” Gardner said. “I have to keep working. “
For now, Boone said, he will deploy a center field squad, starting Gardner against righties and Davis against lefties. Here’s a vote for fewer Gardner starts, even if that means replacing Davis with demoted Greg Allen, so the Yankees don’t overexpose their beloved veteran and take advantage of shorter bursts from him.
“It’s really nice to have him there and [to] being able to shoot him in the right clashes, ”Boone said of Gardner. ” Obviously [to] having his speed and defense sitting there definitely gives you a good look.
It looked great Friday night, as the Yankees were at their best in 2021.