Yankees veteran’s grit displayed in one key at-bat

CLEVELAND — Brett Gardner came to bat with two outs, runners on first and second in the ninth inning.

In that situation — with the open base third and the AL homer lead on deck — intentionally walking Gardner is against the book with the Yankees up a run. But Judge had looked dreadful all series. He was 1-for-19 with 16 strikeouts, including four in four at-bats to that point in Wednesday’s game.

Gardner had two hits in Game 5 and, though, he had struck out in the fifth, it came at the conclusion of a 12-pitch, left-versus-left battle against the overpowering Andrew Miller.

But Indians manager Terry Francona ignored the small picture of this series, saying, “If we walk [Gardner] and Judge hits a ball 500 feet, I would have a hard time living with that. You’re going to walk a guy to get to a guy that drove in a 100 [runs]. No, that would be hard to do.”

Gardner, though, did what he does best as a hitter — he turned an at-bat into a saga. He had made himself from a fourth-outfield type to an above-average major leaguer by never taking off a pitch, never giving away an at-bat. This was his tour de force.

Cody Allen’s stuff is just a notch down from Miller, but Gardner waged yet another 12-pitch at-bat. He fouled off five straight full-count pitches before he finally darted a single to right to drive home one run and Todd Frazier hustled home for a second when Jay Bruce’s throw back to the infielder bounded away from Francisco Lindor. That gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead and pretty much assured they would win Game 5, clinch this Division Series and move onto the ALCS.

“That was one of the greatest, big-moment at-bats I have ever seen,” said Jim Hendry, a special adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Of the at-bat, Gardner said, “It is an eternity, especially versus a guy with as good a stuff as Cody Allen.”

At the end of the eternity, the longest continuous tenured Yankee had produced one of the biggest hits of his career.

Read the full article at the Original Source..

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