Yankees: Aaron Boone earned credit for Brett Gardner and Game 1 lineup
By Adam Weinrib
Yankees fans spent 48 hours angry about the idea of Aaron Boone playing Brett Gardner in Game 1 but, uh, what about now?
Yankees fans are so set in their predictive ways that they now spend their days pre-analyzing and predicting with certainty moves they’ll hate, agonizing when the moves are actually made, and gloating after the moves don’t work.
But, for the first time in quite a while, the fan base might have to eat some humble pie and bow down to Aaron Boone after Game 1 of the ALDS, who pushed a few supremely correct lineup buttons which we definitely doubted prior to first pitch.
Remember when we told you to be prepared for the red-hot Brett Gardner to play instead of Clint Frazier in the opening contest against Shane Bieber in Cleveland? Well, we should’ve told you to prepare for it to work.
As attached as Yankees fans are to Clint Frazier, Boone chose to play the hot hand with postseason experience in Gardner in Game 1. Frazier finished the season a 1-for-20 slump, whereas Gardy hit .365/.500/.611 in his previous 15 games prior to the opener.
Add in his persistence in this Yankees lineup over the past several eras, and we could see where Boone was coming from. After all, if we’re benching Gary Sanchez based on a bad month and Gerrit Cole’s supposed preference, can’t we do the same Frazier and Gardner?
But even with all the caveats, we never saw this coming. Gardner went 3-for-5, ripping an opposite field RBI double off Shane Bieber, slapping a single lefty-on-lefty against Oliver Perez, and hitting a home run to dead center we’d have thought he was physically incapable of striking. Boone was one-for-one.
But his adeptness didn’t stop there.
We called on the Yankees’ manager to separate high-volume strikeout candidates and out-of-rhythm big men Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, something he’d flirted with this past week. Judge hit second, Stanton hit fifth, and both men homered.
He even attempted to get Gleyber Torres going by demoting him to the No. 7 hole. Whether it was the lowered pressure or Judge pointing at his wrist to let Torres know it was “time” to rake, the kid went 4-for-4 with a trio of RBI, a monstrous home run to left-center to make it a 7-2 game and break Shane Bieber’s back, and the best at-bat of the game, featuring six consecutive curveballs and a lot of spitting on ’em in a momentum-altering walk.
We take plenty of credit away from Boone when the team looks limp and lifeless, wondering why he chooses not to tinker, or allows Luke Voit to make the difficult speeches for him. Therefore, we might as well drop it on his shoulder’s when it’s very much due.
This Game 1 domination and the machinations involved therein went about as well for Boone as any game he’s managed in this uniform. Now, it’s time to repeat the effort.