Game 78: NYY vs. HOU — A “Gardy Party”

I think my favorite tweet about tonight’s game was the Yankees’ “Everyone’s invited to a Gardy party!” It’s a terrible attempt at a pun, of course, thanks in part to Yankees’ radio announcer John Sterling and his infamous old-school radio calls. But it was certainly a nice wrap up for the offense that was Brett Gardner tonight in the opening game against the Astros.

Of course, Gardner’s push had huge support thanks to starter Michael Pineda, who threw 91 pitches in 6 innings, giving up 7 hits, no walks, and 3 runs (only 2 earned), and striking out 3 Houston batters. In the 1st, a lead-off double moved to 3rd on a ground out and then scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Astros an early lead. With 1 out and 2 runners in scoring position in the 4th, a ground out scored the first and a single scored the second to give the Astros a nice lead over the Yankees.

Recently called-up Bryan Mitchell came on for the final third of the game for the Yankees, giving them the kind of solid, consistent long-term relief they’ve been needing for a few weeks. He threw just 30 pitches in 3 innings and still managed to give up a run, in his middle inning, the 8th. A lead-off double ended up at 3rd on a fielding error and then scored on a ground out.

And that wouldn’t be good enough if the Astros were playing like one of the best teams in baseball (as they are), but the Yankees seemed to remember that they’re also one of the best teams in baseball. And it would be Brett Gardner (of course) to start the whole thing for the Yankees with a lead-off double in the 3rd and then scoring on Didi Gregorius’ 2-out double to tie up the game, at that point.

Down 3-1, the Yankees began their rally and eventual rout in the 6th inning. Gregorius led-off with a single and moved to 2nd on Romine’s 1-out walk. The Astros’ starter was done, but the bullpen wasn’t any better. Ronald Torreyes’ single scored Gregorius and then after another strikeout, the rally began. Chris Carter single scored Romine, Gardner’s single scored Torreyes (to finally put the Yankees in the lead), and Jacoby Ellsbury’s single scored Carter as an error moved runners into scoring position. Aaron Judge’s walk was on a wild pitch that scored Gardner. That ended the 6th inning run rally as a new reliever found the final out of the inning.

But it would be the 7th inning that would leave everyone talking. The Yankees loaded up the bases with singles to Headley and Romine and a walk to Torreyes. Wade hit into a ground out that the Astros kicked into defensive gear and got the best out at home. A new reliever got a strikeout but then got Gardner to work up a full count before he sent a 82 mph slider into the right field seats for a home run, his 3rd career grand slam to ensure a Yankees victory tonight.

To add just a pinch more, the Yankees took advantage of the Astros sending in a position player to close out the game in the 9th. Torreyes and Wade each worked a walk. Carter’s double scored Torreyes, Gardner’s sacrifice fly score Wade, and Ellsbury’s ground out scored Carter before the position player reliever got home run leader Aaron Judge to fly out to end the inning and set up the Yankees for the big win.

Final score: 13-4 Yankees.

Roster moves: Before tonight’s game, the Yankees put Dustin Fowler on the 10-day disabled list with his ruptured right patellar tendon injury (more below) and optioned reliever Ronald Herrera back to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In their place, the Yankees recalled tonight’s long closer Bryan Mitchell and the hero rookie from two days ago Miguel Andujar from AAA Scranton.

A few hours before tonight’s game, the Yankees all crowded into Girardi’s office to Facetime with their injured teammate Dustin Fowler in a Chicago hospital. Fowler will be discharged from the hospital and sent to New York to begin his roughly 6 months of recovery. It’s a bit shorter than a torn ACL, but a knee injury, regardless of how intense, is never an easy road to recovery. Fowler deserves a chance to show what a great player he can be in the big leagues, and at this point, it looks like maybe next year he gets that chance.

Go Yankees!

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