Brett Gardner wasn’t sure his slide made a difference last night. I’m going to go ahead and say that it did. When Eduardo Nunez grounded into a potential inning-ending double play, Gardner went hard into second base. One of the writers sitting next to me called it the cleanest takeout slide he’d ever seen.
There was absolutely nothing over-the-top about it, Gardner just went hard into Sean Rodriguez’s legs, broke up the double play and changed the game completely.
“Nuney gets down the line pretty well, so I’m not sure if they would have turned a double play if I hadn’t been there,” Gardner said. “But you’ve got to do what you can to get that run across. Bases loaded one out, definitely not trying to hurt anybody, but it’s my job. I’ve got to go in hard and make it difficult for him to turn it.”
Rodriguez’s throw went far off line and the tying run scored.
Gardner’s red hot lately, and last night was just another example. I’ve often written on this blog that I really enjoy watching the way speed plays in a baseball game. You don’t see it every game, but now and then, true speed will make a difference. Maybe it’s making a catch in the outfield, or turning a single into a double, or stealing a base at the right time. Or maybe it’s getting to second base in time disrupt a play that would have crushed a late-inning rally.
“You’ve got to get a good secondary (lead),” Gardner said. “You’ve got to kind of anticipate that happening, and it’s one of those things that I do over there at first in that situation. You’ve got to get a good secondary and really run hard to second and try to get there in time.”
Gardner got there, and as much as anything, that’s why the Yankees won that game.
Associated Press photo