Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gardner Walks Off

The story before Brett Gardner hit an RBI single to win the game in the tenth inning was Mariano Rivera's inability to put the game away with his second straight blown save in two straight games. On Wednesday Rivera was unable to close the game against the White Sox which eventually went on to be a Chicago win in twelve innings. Tonight, Rivera was again able to record two outs but Miguel Cabrera took him deep with Austin Jackson on second base after recording a double earlier in the inning. Miguel Cebrera sent the Rivera offering deep into Monument Park and Mariano Rivera again walked off the mound with the game tied. This time though, the offense would take him off the hook as they won the game in ten innings. The Detroit reliever struck Chris Stewart out with one out and the bases loaded after intentionally walking Eduardo Nunez and Gardner didn't waste any time by slapping a ground ball past the leaping try of third baseman Miguel Cabrera to win the game for the Yankees. Gardner gets big hits for the Yankees, even if they are just slap singles. The Yankees need to score runs in any way possible and Gardner's speed and ability to swing the bat during a hot streak can ride the Yankees to victories. Alex Rodriguez went 0-4 with three strikeouts and couldn't get the big hit under pressure. Rodriguez is now hitless in his last 25 at-bats against right handed pitchers dating back to game 1 of the 2012 ALDS against the Orioles. His last hit off a righty came on 10/3/2012 against a Red Sox RHP. Yikes. A-Rod's ability to mash and rake may have taken a turn south but he can still be an asset on the field if he remains healthy.

Lost in the shuffle will be Ivan Nova's fantastic start. In seven innings, Nova allowed one run on eight hits and struck out seven batters. Ivan Nova has looked like an ace since late June. I sound like a broken record saying this, but Ivan Nova's success as a starter will determine how far the Yankees will go in the future. With Sabathia's age becoming an issue the Yankees have to rely on young starters to fill out the top of the rotation. If Nova keeps pitching like he has over his last six starts he will be in the conversation to be the Yankees number two starter in 2014 and beyond. If Sabathia's productivity really diminishes, Nova could be the future ace of the Yankees staff. In order for that to happen though, Nova needs to show that he has matured and has put last year in the rear-view mirror.

This was a big win for the Yankees. They stopped their four game losing streak and broke the Tigers' twelve game win streak. Little things like a key base hit is all the Yankees need. They have an opportunity to do much of the same tomorrow against Anibal Sanchez who has pitched to a sparkling ERA this year. In order to give themselves a chance at a win tomorrow afternoon, Phil Hughes has to show that he can come up big as his days as a Yankee are numbered and other teams have an eye on him for next year.

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