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Does Brett Gardner's Injury Kill the Yankees' Postseason Hopes?

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 6: Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees hits a two-run triple during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox in an MLB baseball game at Yankee Stadium on September 6, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJanuary 9, 2017

The news continues to get worse for the New York Yankees.

Brett Gardner left Thursday's game against the Orioles with a left oblique strain, according to ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews

Gardner appeared to flinch and reach for his left side after he struck out on a check swing leading off the game.

After the news that Derek Jeter's season is all but done and the rash of other injuries the Yankees have dealt with, does this kill their hopes of keeping pace in a tight AL Wild Card race? After all, they're only one game back.

 

Reaction

The initial Twitter reaction to an injury is always the best way to tell how a fanbase is taking it:

Gardner was batting .273 with eight home runs and 52 RBI. More importantly, he was the table-setter with 10 triples and 24 steals.

So, there's no doubt the loss at the top of the order hurts.

It's a tough break for the Yankees, who may now have to look to Ichiro Suzuki to fill the leadoff spot, a role that Gardner assumed 132 times this year.

 

What Does This Mean?

Just as it has with all other injuries the Yankees have dealt with this year, the game must go on. The players can't worry about what they're going to do without Gardner. Instead, they have to continue approaching the game as if each opponent is their last.

More than likely, Ichiro will slide into the No. 1 slot, a place where he's batted .314 this year and .324 for his career.

Age may be getting to him, but the Yankees have no other real alternatives.

Curtis Granderson could be an option, but he's only had eight plate appearances at leadoff this year and 46 over the last two years. In fact, he hasn't batted first in the order with any regularity since 2009 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Sulking over the loss of Gardner will only make matters worse. If anything, it should give them even more resolve since they've already made it this far in spite of all the bad luck.

New York is still right in the mix, and while far from ideal, it shouldn't affect the ballclub's playoff chances.

 

The Rest of the Schedule

If Ichiro is indeed the one who is called upon to take over leadoff duties, he'll do it against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, Rays and Astros

Of those teams, only the Giants have held him to less than a .292 average in his career. So, I like his chances.

New York has a real opportunity to shut the critics up after seeing guys like Mark Teixeira, Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis all miss significant playing time. If it can secure one of the wild-card spots, the offense is still in good hands.

Alfonso Soriano and Robinson Cano are still in the middle of the order and putting up MVP-like numbers down the stretch, A-Rod has shown flashes of the power stroke that made him so dangerous in his prime, and even Mark Reynolds has been a pleasant surprise since being acquired from the Indians in mid-August. Each one of these guys has the talent to carry a team, and considering that, I have all the confidence in the world that come the final week, the Yankees will still have a shot at postseason glory.

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