Gardner homers, Judge cracks tooth, Yanks top Rays 6-5 in 11
NEW YORK (AP) — Brett Gardner lined a slider from rookie Andrew Kittredge a half-dozen rows into the right-field seats leading off the 11th inning, circled the bases with his career-high 18th home run, rolled his helmet toward home plate and crossed with the winning run.
The Yankees went wild, so wild that rookie star Aaron Judge lost part of a tooth in the celebration.
“He’s too big to get hurt by something like that,” Gardner said after New York beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 Thursday night. “I think he’ll be all right.”
Gardner sparked the tying rally with a leadoff triple in the ninth against Alex Colome and scored on a strange two-out single by Gary Sanchez.
With second baseman Tim Beckham shifted to the shortstop side of second, Sanchez hit a two-hopper between shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and Beckham. The two infielders looked at each other as the ball bounced into the outfield.
“They kind of, both of them, froze,” Sanchez said through a translator.
Hechavarria, acquired from Miami on June 26, put his hands on his hips and stared. He said through a translator that he wasn’t used to positioning himself that far toward third.
“I guess you could say we’re just not familiar playing with each other,” Beckham said. “We knew what to do if a ball was hit in between, and it just didn’t take place. I’m not going to point the finger at anyone at all, but the play has to be made.”
Gardner then homered in the 11th on a 1-1 slider up and over the middle of the plate from Kittredge (0-1), who made his debut July 18 and lost in his first big league decision.
“He’s the heart and soul,” CC Sabathia said of Gardner, who turns 34 next month. “He’s the jokester. He gets everybody going. He’s a big part of this team. He has been for a long time.”