Rookie Brett Gardner Gives Yankees Walk-Off Win

Patrick MurraySenior Analyst IJuly 6, 2008

The New York Yankees earned a split of their four-game series with the Boston Red Sox with their 5-4 win on Sunday night.

Rookie outfielder Brett Gardner hit the eighth pitch of his 10th inning at bat against Jonathan Papelbon up the middle for a hit to bring home Robinson Cano and win the game.

Mariano Rivera pitched two scoreless innings to pickup his third win of the year. With two outs in the ninth and the go-ahead run on third base, Manny Ramirez was sent to the plate to pinch hit. He looked at three straight Rivera fastballs on the outside corner for a strikeout and quietly retreated to the Boston dugout.

By not swinging the bat, was Ramirez "getting back at" manager Terry Francona for not starting him? Coming into the game Ramirez was just five for his last thirty-three at bats (.151), so Francona gave him the day off. You never know with Manny.

Joba Chamberlain recorded a quality start for the Yanks, allowing three earned runs on four hits and four walks in six innings.

With the Yankees trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, manager Joe Girardi became frustrated with the home plate umpire Laz Diaz's calls. After a questionable called strike two to Gardner, Girardi began yelling from the dugout. When Diaz voiced that he did not want to hear it, Girardi came out of the dugout and was ejected. Girardi and Diaz continued to argue until umpire crew chief Wally Bell came over from first base and separated them.

Gardner responded with a base hit, and after stealing second was driven home by Derek Jeter.

Robinson Cano tied the game at four with a clutch two-run triple in the seventh.

The Yankees first run came off an Alex Rodriguez home run which tied him with Yankee legend Mickey Mantle on the all-time list.

The 24-year-old Gardner looks like he might be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees; especially with Johnny Damon on the disabled list.

Although Gardner has just a .142 batting average in his first six games, he has looked good at the plate. Gardner has tremendous plate discipline, battles deep into the count, and fouls off pitches. His walk-off single came on the eighth pitch of the at bat, and he saw nine pitches in the prior at bat. Add that to his speed, baserunning ability, and grit, and you have a prototypical leadoff hitter.

In 80 games with Triple-A Scranton Wilkes Barre this season, Gardner hit .287, with a .412 OBP, 59 runs scored, and a league leading 34 stolen bases. He is 3-for-3 in steal attempts so far in the big leagues.

According to ESPN, the last two rookies to get a walk-off hit for the Yankees against the Red Sox were Derek Jeter and Don Mattingly.