Yankees 4, Tigers 3: Gardner saves everyone from heartbreak

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sport

The Yankees were a strike away from victory when their hearts were nearly broken by a Rivera blown save. Brett Gardner managed to send them home happy in extra innings.

No one could call this game pretty, even if the Yankees won 3-1 in the ninth inning like it seemed they were going to. Mariano Rivera was on the mound to end the Tigers' 12-game winning streak when Miguel Cabrera fouled a ball over to the first base side that fell just in front of Lyle Overbay's glove into the dugout. Even though Cabrera was barely able to stand upright after fouling a ball off his knee and shin in the same at-bat he sent one of the second chances granted to him by the foul out that wasn't into Monument Park for a two-run shot that tied the game.

The Yankees had seen this movie before just days ago in Chicago against the White Sox. A Mo blown save that resulted in extra innings heartbreak. It looked very much like this game was shaping up the exact same way. Right-handed hitters for the Yankees were basically futile all night, failing to pick up a single hit among them. Luckily for the team, the lefties showed up and managed to be just successful enough to save the team from another 2013 gut-wrenching loss. With only Joba Chamberlain, Adam Warren, and Preston Claiborne left in the bullpen, the Yankees loaded the bases against Al Albuquerque and Gardner singled with two outs to score Jayson Nix from third and snap the Tigers' streak of wins.

What should not be lost in the mess that followed was that Ivan Nova was absolutely brilliant on the mound once again. He lasted seven innings for the sixth straight start and held the potent Tigers lineup to only one run. He's been such a bright spot in a season full of darkness for the Yankees. If Nova has really turned the corner all cannot really be lost for 2013. David Robertson followed Nova out of the bullpen with a clean inning, pushing his scoreless appearance streak to 21 games. Rivera's second blown save in a week will inevitably start debates from some about whether he is the dominant pitcher we have known him to be, but four blown saves in the season as of August 9 is not really that concerning. He's letting more people on base this year but his BABIP is extraordinarily high. Mo has had blips before and until he proves otherwise, this is likely just another one of those.

Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki each accounted for three hits while Robinson Cano's two-run double accounted for most of the scoring on the Yankees' side. Alex Rodriguez and Chris Stewart were two of the main right-handed hitting failures of the night with each going 0-4 with three strikeouts. Stewart also chipped in a double play with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth inning when he had a chance to provide some much needed insurance. Everything that can be said about him at this point has been said. The reason he continues to play as the starter is beyond explanation. Why he is allowed to bat in critical situations late in the game is inexplicable.

The Yankees will try to take the series from the Tigers tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 pm. Phil Hughes gets the start for New York and Anibal Sanchez takes the ball for Detroit.

Box score.

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