In a game started by Wandy Peralta…
In a game that lasted 11 innings, with Aroldis Chapman unavailable…
In a game that began with 6.2 soft-tossing shutout innings from Marco Gonzales, the exact type of left-handed junk baller the Yankees haven’t hit with any consistency since the mid-90s…
was the last man standing, as he always seems to be.
The longest-tenured Yankee and the last man standing from the 2009 World Series champions, as Michael Kay so helpfully reminded fans for some reason midway through the 11th, Gardner had previously squandered a chance to win this one.
In the bottom of the ninth, in the exact same scenario after Mariners manager Scott Servais chose to walk Rougned Odor to force Kyle Higashioka and Gardner to beat his team, the 37-year-old fought and fouled off pitch after pitch before popping out on the 3-2.
This time, against Keynan Middleton, he met him halfway on a two-strike fastball, sending a vintage laser to center for his ninth career walk-off. How could this team’s mojo have changed so rapidly? Everything — and we mean everything — about this win was improbable.
Yankees hero Brett Gardner walks off the Mariners.
The Yankees now sit a season-high 11 games over .500, and are just two games in the loss column behind the Boston Red Sox. How. How? It’s only Aug. 6! On July 25, all hope seemed lost. Now, hope overflows, through each and every part of this roster.
Credit where credit’s due. To win this one — without a starter and without Chapman — Aaron Boone had to manage a near-perfect game. He did, and each and every member of this suddenly-energized team responded, given enough time to do so by their pitching staff.
From Peralta to Stephen Ridings (again!) to Joely Rodriguez to Clay Holmes to Lucas Luetge to Jonathan Loaisiga to Zack Britton to Chad Green to Albert Abreu, the Yankees surrendered only one run that wasn’t placed on a free base by Rob Manfred.
It took plenty of classic scratching and clawing to get to the end result, and the Bombers were one more late swing from Gardner away from entering a downward spiral in the top of the 12th, with Tyler Wade looming in the bottom of the inning.
Instead, Gardner came in late for Jonathan Davis, and posted three consecutive at-bats that exemplify the value he still holds as this team’s 26th man. His walk led off the Diego Castillo-infused rally that tied the game in the eighth (and could’ve provided more). He nearly finished things in the ninth by working the count and going defensive.
In the 11th, he saved the Yankees in a game this new-look unit just seems to win. Call it confidence. Call it a changing tide. This doesn’t happen in mid-June, and it just…does now.
Thanks to Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, sure, but based on what we just witnessed, very much thanks to everyone else, too.