Relive Gardner's walk-off vs. Papelbon
Rookie gives Yanks late-game spark over Sox on July 6, 2008
The game started out as an interesting showcase in contrasting pitching styles between the young flamethrower Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield of the Red Sox.But in the end, it was the teams' elite closers who were on center stage last year at Yankee Stadium on July 6. Mariano Rivera pitched two scoreless innings to get the best of Jonathan Papelbon, who picked up the loss after Yankees callup Brett Gardner hit a game-winning single past shortstop Julio Lugo to give New York a 6-5 win in the 10th inning. "It's awesome -- it's something I'll remember for the rest of my life," Gardner said after the game. "It's definitely an unbelievable experience. "I was talking to the ball and trying to talk it up the middle. As soon as I saw [Lugo] get some glove on it, I was like, 'Oh, no.' But it squirted away." Every day from now to Spring Training, MLB.com/Live will air a classic game on Baseball's Best. The Yankees' dramatic win can be seen on Friday at 2 p.m. ET. Gardner, who was called up exactly a week before his late-inning heroics, replaced Johnny Damon in the lineup after the veteran outfielder was placed on the disabled list. After Gardner's walk-off single, Rivera was one of the first to run out of the dugout to congratulate the rookie. Rivera earned the win for the Yankees after holding the Red Sox scoreless in the ninth and 10th innings. But his counterpart, Papelbon, got into trouble in the 10th when Robinson Cano opened with a single and reached second on a sacrifice bunt before Wilson Betemit struck out. Gardner then battled with Papelbon, finally hitting the eighth pitch to shortstop for the walk-off hit. "I was just trying to strike him out," Papelbon said afterward. "He hit a ball up the middle that was able to hit the lip of the grass and bounce up. It seems like that's what's going to happen if you're going to get me this year -- broken bat or find a way through the infield somehow. Yeah, it's frustrating. You have the guy 0-2 and you figure you'll put him away, and it doesn't happen." The game featured solid starts by both Chamberlain and Wakefield, as the two had almost mirror-image line scores. Chamberlain allowed three runs on four hits along with five strikeouts over six innings, while Wakefield allowed three runs on four hits with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings. Alex Rodriguez opened the scoring with a solo homer in the second before the Red Sox tallied three runs in the fifth on a wild pitch and a two-run single by Dustin Pedroia. The Yankees scored on an RBI single by Derek Jeter in the sixth and added two runs in the seventh on a two-run triple by Cano to tie the game after the Red Sox scored in the sixth. With the win, New York managed to split the series, 2-2, and move nine games behind Tampa Bay in the American League East. "We've been fighting the whole season, but I think the team is getting better the last two games, especially with men on base," Cano said. "I think if we keep doing that more often, we're going to start winning more." Cano ended up being correct, as the Yankees went on to win 11 of their next 14 games.
Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.