Gardner Walks-Off, Yanks Sweep Texas

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 R H E
0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  2 9 1  
0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1  3 11 0  
W: Wade (1-0)
L: Kirkman (1-1)
Swisher, RF 4 0 1 0 1 1 1 .229
Granderson, CF 5 1 3 0 0 2 3 .285
Teixeira, 1B 6 0 0 0 0 0 8 .251
Cano, 2B 4 2 2 0 1 1 2 .290
Jones, An, LF 3 0 0 0 1 3 4 .211
Gardner, LF 2 0 2 1 0 0 0 .286
Posada, DH 5 0 1 1 0 2 4 .226
Martin, C 4 0 2 1 1 1 1 .238
Nunez, E, SS 3 0 0 0 1 0 3 .239
Pena, R, 3B 3 0 0 0 0 2 2 .286
a-Rodriguez, Al, PH-3B 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 .283
Totals 40 3 11 3 6 12 29 .260
Gordon 5.1 7 2 2 3 3 0 3.38
Noesi 1.2 1 0 0 1 0 0 1.59
Robertson 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1.32
Rivera, Ma 2.0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1.71
Wade(W, 1-0) 2.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Totals 12.0 9 2 2 4 6 0 3.56

Game review from’s Matt Fortuna:

NEW YORK — A day before he put pen to paper, before he could put on a Major League uniform for the first time in three years, Brian Gordon went to a field across the street from Yankee Stadium.

Thirty-two years old and not yet officially a Yankee, Gordon tossed with baseball operations assistant Brett Weber, catching the eye of one passerby who stopped to say Gordon had a nice arm.

Unbeknownst to that observer, Gordon would take the mound one block over for the real thing the next day.

The New York-born, Texas-raised Gordon gave the Yankees everything they could have hoped for, and then some, in his first career start Thursday against the Rangers, a 3-2, 12-inning win that completed a three-game sweep and made this 10-game homestand a winning one after it began with three straight losses.

Brett Gardner won the game with a one-out single off Michael Kirkman in the 12th, driving home Curtis Granderson for the game-winning run, Gardner’s third career walk-off RBI.

“Unbelievable,” said Gardner, who once again did not start against a left-hander, but came off the bench to go 2-for-2. “[Gordon] turns up; nobody even knew who he was, to be honest. But he took the mound for us today and gave us six strong innings, threw the ball great, really had command of all his pitches. He stayed ahead and gave us a chance to win. It was great.”

Gordon, who was signed Thursday, started the game that Cory Wade, called up before Wednesday’s game, ended up winning by pitching a perfect 11th and 12th innings. Wade notched his first win in two years.

Gordon gave him the chance to do that with 5 1/3 strong innings. His first pitch as a Yankee, a 91-mph fastball that went off Ian Kinsler’s bat and into Granderson’s glove in center, came at 1:08 p.m. One-hour and 43-minutes later, he walked off the field to a standing ovation with two runs allowed and 84 pitches under his belt.

“He located,” Texas’ David Murphy said. “He’s not your ideal big league pitcher, but he’s obviously been in this game a long time. Being around so long, you know he’s a fighter. He’s got a bulldog mentality.”

Six of Gordon’s family members were on hand to witness that mentality, the one that told him not to give up after grinding through 15 Minor League seasons, a cup of coffee in the Majors, and one major position switch.

Manager Joe Girardi assured Gordon, a converted outfielder, that he would start Tuesday’s game at Cincinnati, asking him if he had picked up a bat in a while.

“You spend 10 years grinding it out, and then you decide to pitch, and now you get your first Major League at-bat,” Gordon said with a laugh. “I guess that’s the way I like to operate.”

Gordon considered retiring after that 10th year, in 2006, before he asked Jackie Moore, his manager at Triple-A Round Rock, then a part the Astros’ organization, if he could take the mound the following season.

Moore, now Texas’ bench coach, was receptive of the request, and by that spring Gordon was working with Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan on a switch that would eventually land him a shot at the big leagues.

“I just wanted to have fun with it,” Gordon said of his decision to persevere. “I knew I was at peace with retirement, but I knew also I’d kick myself in the butt if I never gave pitching a chance, laying my head down every night just wondering. That would eat me up.”

Gordon cruised through the first four innings on just 49 pitches before running into trouble in the fifth, surrendering an RBI double to Kinsler that tied the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, he hit his second batter of the game, Adrian Beltre, in the left elbow with a 68-mph curveball, making it 2-1 Rangers.

Jorge Posada ensured that Gordon would not lose his debut by driving home Robinson Cano with an RBI double in the sixth to tie the game at 2. Cano scored the Yankees’ first run in the second inning on a Russell Martin single.

Hector Noesi, the other candidate to start Thursday’s game in place of the injured Bartolo Colon, pitched 1 2/3 shutout innings. David Robertson pitched a perfect eighth and Mariano Rivera pitched scoreless ninth and 10th innings.

Gordon’s only previous Major League experience came with the Rangers in 2008, a three-appearance stint that saw him give up one run and three hits over four innings.

“I think the Good Lord’s got a sense of humor,” he said of facing his former team.

Gordon clawed his way back to this moment by going 5-0 this season with an International League-best 1.14 ERA for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Phillies’ organization.

The Phillies sent out a league-wide e-mail last week notifying clubs that Gordon was available, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman contacted them.

Gordon was notified that he would be a Yankee on Tuesday night, entered the stadium for the first time Wednesday, and received a tour before beginning his first day in pinstripes at 9:50 a.m. Thursday, when he walked into a near-empty clubhouse and settled next to the locker of Amauri Sanit, who was released later in the day to make room on the 40-man roster for the newcomer.

Gordon struggled to find words to describe entering the clubhouse for the first time.

“I got chills,” he said, shaking his head. “It was special. It was just unbelievable because to me, this is like the greatest stage in baseball, and you’re one of the five guys.”

Cashman said before the game that the odds were against the Yankees for Thursday, before adding, “but it’s baseball, anything can happen.”

Even a 15-year Minor Leaguer saving the day for the most storied franchise in the Majors.

About Mike D.

Mike D. is one of 2 co-founders of the Yankees Fans Unite Blog. He has been a Yankees fan for as long as he can remember, growing up in a family of huge NYY fans. His knowledge of the game comes from watching baseball his whole life, and playing third base in high school and college.

Posted on June 17, 2011, in Game Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Mike….
    Very well done, a great story of ones love of the game.
    One thing we may see is, fans wanting Brett to start all the games, he has shown he hits lefties. Well, yes and no, Brett hits BP lefties OK but, not so much with starters…and we all know about Joe and his BOOK!
    Posada is doing well, which is great and making me look bad but, I’ll take that for Yankee wins. I hope it isn’t one of those flashes of the young Posada…then back to what we have seen so far this year. I would rather be wrong…and win…then to be right and lose games! 🙂

  2. Morning Ken I am in favor of Gardner starting all the games on this road trip no matter who is pitching. He is a threat to steal and is one of our hottest hitters.

  3. I think Brett JUST proved that he could be the lead-off hitter and possibly more after that performance yesterday. Just coming off of the bench to replace Andruw Jones who was 0 for 3 and then getting two base hits (one of them winning the game) was really just amazing. I don’t agree with the whole not starting Brett because of left handed pitching just because of match-up numbers. If Girardi hadn’t noticed, numbers don’t mean anything. It just shows how the hitter hit in the past against the pitcher or vice-versa. Besides, almost everytime that Girardi puts in Jones in to start instead of Gardner, Jones doesn’t deliver. Brett should obviously be our starting left fielder for every pitcher, not a platoon player against lefties. Besides, take out his bat and all you’ll have that’s hitting is Cano, A-Rod and Granderson.

  4. Good Stuff Delia. Totally agree with you. Brett is a young guy and brings alot of energy to this team. Now if he can work on his base stealing ability.

    • Hi Bill…
      Delia did do herself justice today…again! I really think he has to learn the pitchers better, the speed is there but, he has been picked off on moves of the pitcher or his proclivity for waiting to long. He hasn’t been picked off much lately…this isn’t the minors anymore.
      Bretts numbers against starting LEFTYS is not all that good but, let him work it out…he can help the team more by trying to hit (and learning)…he is a good guy to have on the team every day. The pitchers (and catchers) hate his kind of player…like I have always said (along with many others); “Speed Kills”!
      “Brett…work on your bunting and stealing…please!” 8)

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