Friday, September 13, 2013

The Constant Gardner

The Yankees pulled out an important win in the 9th inning against the Baltimore Orioles last night, but Brett Gardner had to leave the game after one at-bat due to a oblique injury. It's possible that Gardner could be lost for the season after undergoing an MRI today, which in case you have forgotten, is Friday the 13th.

Gardner has played in 145 of the Yankees' 147 games, a far cry from last year when an injured right elbow limited him to just 16 games in the regular season. With Derek Jeter limited to 17 games this season, Gardner's role at the top of the order has been crucial to the Yankees keeping their toes in the water of the playoff race.

He's' not as aggressive as he once was, for reasons unknown to just about everyone, but Gardner has swiped 24 bases in 32 attempts this season. His .273 batting average and .416 slugging percentage are both above his career norms, and his hits (147), HR (8) , RBI (52),doubles (33), and triples (10) totals are career bests. His OPS (.759) is just three points lower than the career high he set in 2010.

Gardner also manned centerfield after being moved to left the past two seasons to accomodate Curtis Granderson. The move back to center would have occurred even Granderson hadn't suffered a broken forearm in Spring Training. With Garnder possibly out for at least the remainder of the regular season, Granderson will move back to centerfield and rookie Zoilo Almonte could see some more playing time.

As for Thursday night's game itself, the Yankees entered the 8th inning with a 5-2 lead, but David Robertaon had a rare terrible night that culminated in a game tying 3-run home run by Danny Valencia. Orioles reliever Jim Johnson got him off the hook though with a sloppy 9th inning.

After Brendan Ryan reached on a single, Johnson committed an error on Chris Stewart's sacrifice bunt attempt and everyone was safe. Granderson followed with a successful sac bunt and Ryan scored when Johnson unleashed a wild pitch.

Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 9th and was credited with his sixth. The official scorer could have given the win to Robertson, but didn't feel he deserved it after his performance. With no save for Rivera, the Yankees' closer remains tied for the AL lead got it...Jim Johnson.  Coincidence much?

Granderson hit his 16th career home run aganist the Orioles, second only to Edwin Encarnacion's 19.

Phil Hughes started and was followed by David Huff. Both pitchers allowed one run in thee innings of work.

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