10/16/10 10:30 PM ET
Instinct led Gardner to pivotal dive
Outfielder determined not to repeat similar experience in Minors
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Instead, the Yankees put together a five-run rally to edge the Rangers, 6-5, in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, and many lauded Gardner for getting it all started. He said that his instincts told him to go head-first, as he recalled a play in the Minor Leagues in which he'd lost a hit in similar fashion.
"There was a left-handed pitcher on the mound and he caught it and rolled around, and tagged me before my foot hit the base -- I was furious," Gardner said, recalling his time at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. "I should have been safe.
"I had the guy beat to the bag, but because he was left-handed when he caught it with his glove, he was able to reach me and tag me out before I hit the base. I said to myself, 'I'll never let that happen again.'"
Yankees manager Joe Girardi admits he has to hold his breath every time Gardner goes diving into a base, fearing the worst-case scenarios. But there's no question that, in that case, it got results.
"I always cringe a little bit when guys slide, because you worry about them getting stepped on or jamming a shoulder, but he's probably right," Girardi said. "C.J. Wilson would have been able to tag him if he was standing up. It's a great hustle play. Your great concern as a manager is a guy getting hurt more than anything else, and he came out of it fine."
Gardner said after the game on Friday that he feels "sometimes I can get there quicker, depending on how my body is leaning and how my steps pan out when I'm getting closer to the bag." Conventional baseball logic suggests that sliding slows the runner down instead of getting him to the base quicker.
"Everybody says that you don't get there quicker, but I've never really measured it for time," Girardi said. "I really don't know. The bottom line is, he was safe, and it turned out to be a big play."
That is the luxury of the upper-echelon speed that Gardner wields, and Rangers manager Ron Washington was among those impressed after Friday's game, commenting that Gardner "just ran past C.J. That kid can fly. I don't know if there is anybody faster than him."
It was a topic that Gardner said came up recently with Curtis Granderson, as the Yankees outfielders brainstormed a suggestion for the All-Star Game festivities in upcoming years.
"I think they need to have a race at the All-Star Game, just line up 10 or 20 guys and see who wins," Gardner said. "That would be fun. [With Greg] Golson on our team -- he's really, really fast. Greg can really, really run. I haven't raced him, and I don't really want to. Obviously, [Rangers outfielder Julio] Borbon, he can run and there are several guys that can really move. There's only one way to find out; let's do a race."
CC expects to start Game 5, not 4
ARLINGTON -- As the Yankees prepared to board their flight back to New York, CC Sabathia departed with the impression that he has a date with the Yankee Stadium bullpen on Sunday, believing that he remains in line to pitch Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.
There has been some speculation that the Yankees could potentially move Sabathia up, allowing manager Joe Girardi to bypass A.J. Burnett, who has been announced as a probable Game 4 starter. But Sabathia said on Saturday that he hasn't heard anything of the sort.
"I haven't even thought about it, to be honest with you, [because] they announced we're going four-man [rotation] this time around," Sabathia said.
Girardi had no thoughts toward a change in his postgame comments, saying, "Right now, we are on rotation. So, I mean, I haven't discussed that with anyone. I mean, we are on rotation. ... Let me just get on the airplane first, and we'll meet tomorrow."
But Sabathia said that even if he throws his bullpen session on Sunday, it would not necessarily preclude him from starting Game 4 on short rest. Sabathia threw 93 pitches in a four-inning start in Game 1, a no-decision.
"Whenever they tell me I'm pitching, I'm pitching," Sabathia said. "It doesn't matter if I throw a bullpen [session] tomorrow or the day before I pitch. If they want me to take the ball, I have no problem with that, and they know that."
Sabathia said that there is a precedent in his career for such a scenario. On Sept. 20, 2008, while with the Brewers, Sabathia made an emergency start in place of the injured Ben Sheets for Milwaukee at Cincinnati. He allowed four runs (one earned) on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings, taking the loss in a 4-3 defeat.
"I just went in, was told I would pitch and had thrown my bullpen [session] like normal," Sabathia said. "I don't think it affected me at all."
Yanks' respect for Hamilton shows with walks
ARLINGTON -- The Yankees' respect for the Rangers' Josh Hamilton is now in the history books.
Hamilton was walked four times by Yankees pitching during Saturday's 7-2 Rangers win in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, including two intentional walks. The four free passes match a postseason record that has been achieved 14 times previously, including four times in LCS history.
The others in LCS play include the White Sox Frank Thomas in Game 1 of the 1993 ALCS, the Phillies' Darren Daulton in Game 4 of the '93 NLCS, the Padres' Ken Caminiti in Game 2 of the '98 NLCS and Philadelphia's Chase Utley in Game 2 of the 2008 NLCS.
Hamilton -- who hit a three-run homer off CC Sabathia in the first inning of Game 1 -- was walked on a 3-2 pitch by Phil Hughes in the first inning on Saturday and given a free pass in the second, setting up an inning-ending fielder's choice. He also walked against Hughes in the fourth and took an intentional walk in the eighth.
The walks to Hamilton marked just the second time the Yankees have walked a batter four times in a postseason game, joining the four free passes issued to Jackie Robinson in Game 5 of the 1952 World Series.
Rangers unable to solve Yanks' bullpen
ARLINGTON -- Part of what happened on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark was an extension of what happened to the Rangers against the Yankees in previous playoff encounters.
The Rangers have never been able to score late against the Yankees in the playoffs, struggling to get to their bullpen. The Rangers, after scoring five runs in four innings against CC Sabathia, were shut out over the final five innings against relievers Joba Chamberlain, Dustin Moseley, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera. Moseley pitched two scoreless innings.
"Moseley was the guy," manager Ron Washington said. "He came in there throwing a cut fastball, a different look, and pounded the strike zone."
On Saturday, it was more of the same, as Texas tagged Phil Hughes for seven runs in four-plus innings but came up empty against Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan and Sergio Mitre over the final four frames in a 7-2 win.
In 12 playoff games, dating to 1996, the Rangers have now scored just two runs -- one earned -- while tallying 37 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings against the Yankees' bullpen. They have scored just three runs against the Yankees after the fourth inning and none after the sixth inning.
Mariano Rivera has now made eight relief appearances against the Rangers. In 12 scoreless innings, he has allowed three hits and two walks while striking out seven. The Rangers are hitting .081 against Rivera in the playoffs.
No swaying Joba during Yanks' rally
ARLINGTON -- Joba Chamberlain isn't especially known for being superstitious, but he'd found a lucky seat while the Yankees rallied in the eighth inning on Friday, and nothing was going to make him surrender it.
So even though -- ahem -- nature was calling for the reliever, he stayed put and was rewarded for it, as the Yankees rattled off five runs en route to a stunning 6-5 victory over the Rangers in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
"I didn't move," Chamberlain said. "I was just going to continue to go with that."
Chamberlain also played a more prominent role in the comeback, holding the fort with a scoreless fifth inning in relief of starter CC Sabathia. Dustin Moseley also hurled two scoreless innings before the rally started.
"We had to keep the team in the game," Chamberlain said. "CC has picked us up so many times before when we've needed rest, and for this to be able to come out and have our bullpen pick him up was awesome."
Chamberlain started the year as the Yankees' primary eighth-inning reliever but was idle for the AL Division Series against the Twins, with Kerry Wood and David Robertson both seeing innings leading up to closer Mariano Rivera.
"I just continued to get my work in," Chamberlain said. "Everybody made a big deal that I didn't pitch, but there have been times that I've gone three games without pitching. You just continue to stay focused."
Jays reach out to Yanks coach Thomson
ARLINGTON -- Yankees third-base coach Rob Thomson spoke to the Blue Jays' front office about their managerial opening via telephone this week, the New York Post reported on Saturday.
Thomson, a native of Ontario, has been mentioned in several circles as a candidate to succeed the retired Cito Gaston at the helm of the Blue Jays.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman would not comment when asked if the team had granted Thomson permission to speak with Toronto, but the Post reported that Thomson was permitted to speak to the Blue Jays during New York's layoff between the American League Division Series and the AL Championship Series.
Thomson is completing his 21st season as a member of the Yankees organization and his second as the team's third-base coach, having filled a variety of roles to this point. During the Yankees' August trip to Toronto, Thomson said that he was remaining focused on his duties with the Yankees.
"I've been asked that quite a bit with the Toronto job opening up, so I've got all of the Toronto [reporters] asking about it," Thomson said then. "I tell them this -- I have a lot on my plate right now, and I have a responsibility for what happens on a daily basis here. I really believe that if you take care of that, all of the other stuff will take care of itself."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.