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Yankees 5, Tigers 4: Gardner gives Yankees another walk-off win


Jim McIsaac

For the third time in a row and the second time in three days, Mariano Rivera blew a save. Just like Friday night, Miguel Cabrera smashed a home run off Mo in the top of the ninth as part of a Tigers' comeback. But the similarities between today and Friday night didn't end there. Brett Gardner had yet another walk-off hit, this time smashing a home run to give the Yankees a 5-4 win and a series win against the Tigers.

The game started with Andy Pettitte continuing his run of crappy first innings. After Austin Jackson flied out, Torii Hunter reached on a single. Miguel Cabrera walked, which put two runners on for Prince Fielder. After Hunter stole third, Fielder singled him home, giving the Tigers an early lead. Victor Martinez singled as well, which loaded the bases with still just one out. Pettitte got out of the inning when Matt Tuiasosopo grounded into a double play, but the Yankees were once again losing after a Pettitte first inning.

In the bottom of the second, the Yankees took the lead against Justin Verlander. Alex Rodriguez led off the inning with a home run to tie the game at one. Lyle Overbay came up next and he singled to center. Two batters later, Curtis Granderson singled, which moved Overbay to third. Eduardo Nunez then flied out to center, but it was deep enough to score Overbay, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

The Yankees then added another run in the third inning. With two outs, Robinson Cano hit a ground rule double down the left field line. That brought A-Rod back to the plate. Rodriguez singled down the right field line (all while thinking he had fouled it off, not realizing he got a hit). Cano came around and scored, making it 3-1 Yankees.

After Pettitte got into and out of a jam in the top of the fourth, the Yankees tacked on another run against Verlander. Alfonso Soriano got the 2000th hit of his career with a lead-off home run to make it 4-1.

While the Yankees were scoring runs, Pettitte continued to labor. After Pettitte loaded the bases again in the fifth, Girardi opted to take him out. Shawn Kelley came in and got two outs to keep the score at 4-1. Pettitte went 4.1 innings, allowing just one run, but did so on eight hits and three walks, while throwing over 100 pitches.

Kelley came back out to pitch the sixth inning. He got two outs after allowing a lead-off single to Jose Iglesias, but he was pulled after walking Cabrera. Boone Logan came in to face Fielder, who represented the tying run. Logan got Fielder to fly out, preserving the three-run lead.

Logan went back out and threw a scoreless seventh inning before turning it over to David Robertson in the eighth. Things did not get off to the best start for Robertson, as Brayan Pena smashed a home run into the second deck in right field. That cut the Yankees' lead to 4-2. And after that, it got even dicier and super weird. Iglesias came up next, and he beat out a grounder for an infield single. Jackson then grounded one to third. Rodriguez threw to second to get the force out. In real time, it looked like Iglesias was safe and did appear safe from the replays.

Despite the bad call, there was one out with Hunter due up. I will now try to describe the next play as best I can. If you're still confused and didn't see it, I suggest finding the highlights of this game. Hunter hit one deep to center. Gardner kept backing up and made the catch and looked to knock the wind out of himself upon hitting the wall. Jackson had been going to second, but started to jog back to first when Gardner caught it. After making the catch and knocking into the wall, Gardner flipped to ball to Soriano to throw in, as he was clearly shaken up. At some point, Jackson looked back and saw the ball on the ground after Gardner flipped it. He must have assumed that Gardner had dropped it and ran back to second. However the catch had been completed and Soriano got the ball into Cano who tagged out Jackson for a double play. Jackson was confused, but he was out and the inning was over.

After a 1-2-3 inning from the Yankee offense in the bottom of the eighth, Mariano Rivera came in to pitch the ninth. Due up first against Mo was his Friday night nemesis, Miguel Cabrera. For the second time in three days, Cabrera got the best of Mo, hitting another home run, which cut the lead to 4-3. After getting Fielder out, Victor Martinez came to plate. Martinez got the best of Rivera as well, crushing a home run to right. Rivera had blown his third straight save and the game was suddenly tied at four. He got the last two outs, but if the Yankees were now going to win, it would have to be a walk off.

Jose Veras came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Tigers. Nunez led off by hitting one fairly deep towards the wall in right-center. It looked like it might drop in for an extra-base hit, but Hunter tracked it down for the first out. Chris Stewart was due up next, but Vernon Wells was put in as a pinch-hitter for the catcher. Wells also put a good shot on a pitch, but his hooked foul. A couple pitches later, he watched strike three go by. Down to their last out of the inning, Brett Gardner came up to bat. For the second time in three nights, Gardner got himself a walk-off hit. He absolutely smashed a home run into the second deck in right field to give the Yankees a 5-4 win. The victory gave the Yankees their first series win in a long, long time.

The Yankees will continue their homestand with a four-game set against the Angels, starting tomorrow at 7:05 eastern. Hiroki Kuroda will get the start in the first game of that series.

Box score. Graph thingy.

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