The last 24 hours have been pretty good to Brett Gardner. The 35-year-old outfielder stepped into his veteran shoes to inspire the troops after the team’s 8-0 victory Tuesday night, then laced up the cleats and blasted a go-ahead grand slam to win the game in Wednesday’s match. All against New York’s biggest rivals, to boot.
The Yankees finally got their gears going after Nathan Eovaldi shut them down for six innings. Brandon Workman came on in relief looking to hold the 3-1 lead, and promptly served a ball for Clint Frazier to scorch to left field. Mike Tauchman worked a five-pitch walk to get Frazier into scoring position, and after Gio Urshela struck out, Austin Romine worked another walk to load the bases.
Ryan Brasier came in to sort things out, and he got Gardner down to an 0-2 count. He then coughed up the lead on a middle of the plate fastball that got streamlined to the short porch. The blast was Gardner’s 100th career homer, joining three other Yankees to ever hit a grand slam when they hit triple-digits.
The Yankees still had to secure the victory after stealing the lead, but they had the top relievers available today. Adam Ottavino got himself into a jam in the eighth, finding two quick outs before loading the bases, but got Eduardo Nunez to fly out harmlessly to right to escape. Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth, and sat the Sox down 1-2-3 to earn his third save of the season.
The Yankees made quick work of the Boston bullpen, but Eovaldi gave them fits throughout the game. New York only got four baserunners on board against their former pitcher, and the one run they scratched across against him was unearned. It came in the fifth inning, when Luke Voit led off with a walk and advanced to second on an error by Nunez. Frazier stepped up and laced a double to left to push home Voit, and that was it for offense through six innings.
That is, of course, for the Yankees. The Red Sox got to J.A. Happ early, beginning in the first inning with a solo home run by J.D. Martinez. Boston went right back to the well in the second, leading off with a single by Mitch Moreland before Christian Vasquez launched a two-run shot to make it 3-0. To his credit Happ settled down after the Vasquez bomb, allowing only two more hits before exiting the game after 6.1 innings of work.
Taking both games against the Red Sox rejuvenates a lackluster homestand, and it gives the Yankees a good chance of getting to .500 before heading out to the West Coast. It also sends their rivals out reeling, in the bottom of the AL East standings and losers of four of their last five games. The Yankees have done exactly what they needed to right the ship, now they have to stay above water while keeping pace with the surprising Rays.