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Yankees 3, Mariners 2: An 11th-inning Gardy Party wins it for New York

Brett Gardner’s ninth career walk-off supported a stellar performance from the Yankees’ bullpen.

Seattle Mariners v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

This was one of those wins that, if the Yankees make a serious playoff run, fans will remember. On a night when the bullpen held down the opposition from the first inning on, the offense did just enough when it mattered to win the game, capped by Brett Gardner coming through in the clutch with a walk-off single in the 11th. With Boston losing to Toronto, tonight’s gritty Yankees showing narrowed the gap in a 3-2 marathon victory over Seattle.

Yankees “starter” Wandy Peralta came out dealing. He capped an 11-pitch, three-up, three-down first by striking out Kyle Seager on three pitches. Good vibes early. Marco Gonzales followed suit for Seattle though. Seager knocked down a 111-mph laser off the bat of Aaron Judge – at least partially in self-defense – to finish an otherwise ordinary opening stanza.

Peralta came back out to build on his yeoman’s work. Sadly, a bloop single with one out ruined his perfect game. He rebounded from that crushing disappointment though and froze Jake Fraley with a two-strike slider. After former Yankee farmhand Luis Torrens singled, skipper Aaron Boone signaled for The Stephen Ridings Experience.

Ridings ended the inning on a grounder to second, then returned for the third. He continued to flash the stuff that electrified Yankees fans in his first appearance. In contrast with his debut when he struck out everyone he faced, tonight was Ridings II: Groundball Boogaloo. Three of his four outs came on worm-burners. In the bottom of the third, the Yankees meekly went down in order to the guy with a 2.09 HR/9 and an xERA over 7.00. I don’t want to talk about it any further.

Joely Rodríguez took the hill for the Bombers in the fourth. A one-out single by Ty France aside, he continued the excellent work by the Yankees bullpen arms. The parade of pitchers resumed with fellow newcomer Clay Holmes in the fifth. Like his predecessors, he retired the Mariners with little drama.

Unfortunately, the Yankees remained determined to make Gonzales look like a Hall of Famer and to suck the life out of Yankee Stadium, as the bottom of the order fecklessly waved at Gonzales’ offerings. A .108 xBA through five innings… it’s not what you want.

Holmes came back out for the sixth, but after a one-out single by Mitch Haniger, Boone went to the more familiar Lucas Luetge to deal with Seager. Honestly… recording 16 scoreless outs in a bullpen game before the club started bringing higher-leverage arms in? That’s best-case scenario stuff right there. Unfortunately, after Luetge retired Seager, back-to-back singles put the Mariners up 1-0. Best-case scenario, no longer (but still quite good).

New Yankee Anthony Rizzo took it upon himself to try and get the Yankees on the board with a one-out single in the sixth. He then stole second while Aaron Judge swung through a third strike. Unfortunately, stealing third and home was not a realistic plan, so there Rizzo remained after a Giancarlo Stanton fly out.

Luetge returned to the hill, and after he made up for allowing the game’s first run by recording the first two outs in the seventh, Jonathan Loaisiga entered to keep the Mariners down. Although he yielded a double and issued a walk, Loaisiga escaped the seventh unscathed and gave the bats another chance to break through.

Finally, with two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Gleyber Torres at second after a single and an awkward stolen base… Seattle went to the bullpen. Small victories, I guess. 2021 Marco Gonzales left the game having thrown 6.2 shutout innings. Baseball is so predictable. And not at all infuriating. Did the Yankees bring in the run? Of course not. Sometimes, baseball really is predictable. (Thank Kyle Higashioka for grounding out to squash that rally. This would happen again before the night ended.)

Brett Gardner pinch-hit for Jonathan Davis and worked a solid at-bat against new Mariner reliever and old Rays nemesis Diego Castillo in the bottom of the eighth. The baseball gods rewarded Gardy with a leadoff walk. DJ LeMahieu followed that with another base on balls, bringing Anthony Rizzo to the plate; 43,180 fans — the largest crowd of the season — were absolutely begging for a reason to explode.

Castillo plunked Rizzo on a 1-0 pitch, and now the Yankees’ fate rested in the hands of the heart of the order as Judge, Stanton, and Gallo loomed. And finally, mercifully ...

... a laser sac fly to left by Judge brought a run home with ducks still on the pond. It wasn’t exactly a thunderous blow, but it knotted the contest at 1-1.

Sadly, Stanton decided to be On Brand for the 2021 Yankees and hit into a soul-crushing double play — No. 103 for New York on the season — to finish off what was a bases loaded, no one out opportunity. If there had been a TOOTBLAN somewhere in the inning, it would have been perfect(ly enraging). Off to the ninth, with Zack Britton trying to keep the Mariners down. After 10 easy pitches did just that, the Yankees had a chance to end the game without dealing with the Manfred Rules.

Gallo grounded out, but Torres doubled and the Yanks were one hit away from putting this baby to bed. An intentional walk to Odor and a popup from Higashioka brought Gardner to the plate with a chance to win it. But a popup to shallow right wasted another opportunity. Bonus cantos in the Bronx.

Chad Green came in from the bullpen with the abominable runner already at second. Stupid rule. An RBI single by J.P. Crawford on a two-strike curveball later, and Seattle led again. Infuriating sport. A “strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out” double play and a fly ball staunched the bleeding. The Yankees had one last chance against former Baby Bomber Erik Swanson.

Gardner started the 10th at second. Still a stupid rule. LeMahieu worked a four-pitch walk and then Rizzo flew out — almost resulting in a Gardy TOOTBLAN, to boot. Judge went down hacking and the game rested in the hands of Stanton.

After his infuriating double play earlier, Big G redeemed himself with a shallow single to right center that tied the game.

The energy was back in the Stadium, but a Gallo K stranded two runners, sending the game to the 11th.

Albert Abreu, the ninth pinstriped pitcher of the night, came out for said 11th inning. Two fly balls to Gallo and a nice defensive play from Odor to Abreu covering first put the Yankees in position to capitalize on the awful runner on second base rule and send that rowdy crowd home happy.

Gallo started the home half as the ghost runner. After Torres popped weakly out and Seattle intentionally walked Odor for the second time tonight, Higashioka... just... missed crushing a walk-off three-run dinger. Instead, he struck out.

That just meant the heroics were left to the longest-tenured, and perhaps most-maligned Yankee: Brett Gardner.

Gardy put together yet another tough at-bat, finally singling into center field to score Gallo and win this one for the good guys:

This was a huge win, if for no other reason than a loss would have felt devastating after the incredible performance by the Yankees’ bullpen tonight. The relief corps was asked to provide nine good innings; they delivered eleven. As an added bonus, the rookie Abreu earned his first career win.

On an extra note, the game started off with some good news from the YES booth, where Michael Kay revealed that former Yankee and current YES broadcaster Paul O’Neill is a new grandparent. Congratulations to Paulie and his family on that wonderful news.

As for the Yankees, there’s no rest for the weary. They’ll continue this series with the Mariners tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET with Andrew Heaney seeking a better second start in pinstripes and Chris Flexen starting for Seattle.

Play tomorrow. Win tomorrow. That’s it.

Box Score