LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Win On Gardner Walk-Off As Trade Deadline Nears

Friday, July 28, 2017

Yankees Win On Gardner Walk-Off As Trade Deadline Nears

Some day, perhaps many years from now, when looking back on the career of Brett Gardner, the number one highlight might be from this season on May 5th at Wrigley Field. Gardner stepped to the plate with two out and Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury on base. The count was 2-2, so Gardner was down to his final strike. The next pitch landed in the right field seats, and the Yankees led 3-2. Aroldis Chapman who was given his World Series ring by the Cubs that day, closed the door on his former team and the Yankees won. 

Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, Brett Gardner stepped to the plate leading off the bottom of the 11th inning and this time Chapman was the winning pitcher. Gardner again found the right field seats with his career high 18th home run and the Yankees won in walk off fashion, 6-5 over the Rays. The Yankees appear to be coming out of that "June Swoon" mentioned here last week. Since June 11, the Yankees had lost every series except the two at Chicago and Boston which were splits of four games each. But fortunes are beginning to change. The Yankees took three of four in Seattle, swept a pair of games in a short series against the Reds, and started the Rays series on the right foot. This walk off home run could be Gardner's number one highlight, given the importance of turning things back to the winning ways exhibited earlier in this season. 

But it wasn't all smooth sailing, as CC Sabathia was not sharp. If there is one weakness the Yankees have for the stretch run it would have to be starting pitching. 
Sabathia did not make it out of the fifth inning. The Yankees had the Rays Chris Archer on the ropes in the second and third inning and Archer settled in to pitch a nice game, 6 IP 7H 3R 2BB 10K's. Archer did escape a bases loaded one out jam in the 6th, striking out both Todd Frazier and Tyler Wade to end the threat. The Rays bullpen then took over, for awhile. 

In fairness, Sabathia has been solid on the mound since his return from a hamstring injury on July 4th, so a bad night can happen. Friday's starter, Masahiro Tanaka has not been the model of consistency this season, and that has been a problem for Joe Girardi. Jordan Montgomery has been shaky at times and solid at times and is pitching like a rookie. Despite some struggles by Montgomery, it is good to see some home grown talent  in the rotation. And speaking of home grown talent, the emerging ace of the staff is Luis Severino. Good thing the Yankees returned Severino to the rotation, not subjecting him to some variation of the "Joba Rules."

So the rotation has some promise but problems. There is no fifth starter right now, hence the interest in trading for a starter before Monday's deadline, Who will replace Michael  Pineda, who is lost for the season and may have thrown his last pitch as a Yankee? The Yankees say they have no intention of promoting Chance Adams from AAA this season. Luis Cessa has made several starts, but has not performed to the level of a permanent solution, Lefty Caleb Smith has made one unimpressive start and is in line to make another start in this series against the Rays, 

But what about a trade? 

The Yankees have been linked to the A's Sonny Gray, but the latest is the A's want either Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier. The other pitching names mentioned, Darvish and Verlander, don't appear to be on the Yankees radar, so unless there is a sleeper (the Cardinals Lance Lynn?) the Yankees might not be adding a starter after all. Gray might make the most sense if the A's come down on their apparent demands. Not that Gray is all that impressive. There is a history of injuries and though the Yankees probably wouldn't be getting a Kevin Brown or a Carl Pavano, Gray is not exactly a Cy Young candidate. 

I for one will be glad when the Monday 4PM EDT trade deadline arrives, if for no other reason than to put a stop to all the crazy trade talk on the various blogs and fan sites. Maybe there will be good news and the Yankees will get a new, much needed addition to their rotation. 

But the Yankees are not going to add to their rotation at any price and that may turn out to be a good thing for the long haul, beyond this season. 

After Bites
Aaron Judge suffered a chipped tooth during the celebration following Gardner's walk off blast. At least it wasn't a Kendrys Morales Anaheim moment. That was a gruesome injury back in 2010. Great celebration it was, but be careful, guys. The Yankees say Judge will be in the lineup Friday. Did anyone see the pictures of Yankees security checking the area near home plate for said chipped tooth? 

The Yankees tied the game on the 9th inning on a single by Gary Sanchez that appeared to dribble between two infielders who seemingly could have made a play. Seems maybe the defensive shift messed them up. We will certainly take that play, of course. Never argue with what might have been a lucky break. We have seen at least a few of those go the other way during that previous "swoon" which we hope is now history.

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