Game 85: OAK vs. NYY — Brett Gardner is an All-Star! And the Yankees won!

Basically, today was all good news day. Brett Gardner is an All-Star! His first ever selection, but may it be the start of many more to come. One of the starting outfielders (and one of the many Royals voted into the roster) Alex Gordon pulled a groin muscle in last night’s game (against the Rays in Kansas City) and will be out of the game for 8 weeks, thus missing the All-Star Game on Tuesday. In his place will start the next most-voted player Adam Jones (of Baltimore), but then with a spot open in the outfield to replace the starters halfway through the game, it was down to the two outfielders on the Final Fan Vote list — Cespedes (DET) and Gardner. The AL Manager chose Gardner.

About halfway through the game, Girardi was notified of the selection but kept it to himself. He then allowed Gardner to head out to left field to hear the Yankee Stadium announce to the 40,084 fans, members of the press, and all those watching/listening to game across the globe that their #VoteGardy campaign was oddly successful, though not in the prescribed way. Gardner is now headed to Cincinnati, following this weekend series at Fenway, with teammates Teixeira and Betances.

I think Gardner had the right idea all along — play the game, let his actions speak for themselves, and good things will happen. Something he continued to do today, even after the announcement that rocked Yankee Universe, because even though everyone could only talk of Gardner the All-Star after a certain point in the game, there was still a game to be played.

Today’s game was an afternoon matinee in the Bronx, the final game and rubber match against the visiting Athletics. But today was just destined to be a good day for the Yankees. And it was a great day for starter Masahiro Tanaka, who was absolutely outstanding from start to finish. Tanaka threw 114 pitches over his 7.2 innings, gave up just 2 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), and 1 walk, striking out 6 A’s batters. In the 2nd inning, the lead-off batter reached on catcher interference (McCann’s glove got in the way of his swing) and then scored on an RBI double. After a walk, the lead runner then advanced to 3rd on a double play before scoring on a RBI double. That would be the last hit Tanaka would allow for the rest of his outing.

Chasen Shreve came in to finish the 8th inning, and then threw the first 2 outs of the 9th. He gave up the only other hit the A’s would get all day, a 2-out single in 9th inning, before Girardi went back to the bullpen. Adam Warren threw a 3-pitch strikeout to end the game and give Tanaka the win, his 5th of the season.

Now, on the other side of the game, the Yankees started the game off with a bang — Brett Gardner (who else today?) got a 1-out 1st inning solo home run to kick of his day of amazingness. Then in the 3rd inning, Jacoby Ellsbury led-off with a walk, moved to 2nd on Gardner’s single, and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s single. They followed up that in the 4th inning with Drew drawing a 1-out walk, moving to 3rd on Figueroa’s double (more on him in a moment), and then both Ellsbury and Figueroa scored on Ellsbury’s big single to push the Yankees ahead of the A’s again.

To add to the heightened excitement of the day, the Yankees came back and added more in the 8th inning. Young, on base with a 1-out walk, moved to 3rd on Figueroa’s ground-rule double. Then Jacoby Ellsbury’s potential hit became a messy throwing error, allowing both runners to score and Ellsbury to reach 1st safely.

Final score in the Bronx: 6-2 Yankees, Yankees win the series 2-1.

It’s Roster Moves Time! So before the game, Brendan Ryan was headed to AAA Scranton for his rehab assignment (still very mustachioed, by the way), joined by Jose Pirela who was optioned back to AAA Scranton. The Yankees designated Tyler Dugas for assignment and selected the contract of Cole Figueroa.

Figueroa was a great pick-up by the Yankees. I remember him from Spring Training (and his very large family all donning Figueroa jerseys from his time last year with the Single-A Tampa team), and he certainly made his MLB debut tonight in a big way — going 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored. Both of his hits were doubles, big doubles. Figueroa and Gardner were easily the best offensive contributors to the game today; Gardner going 3-for-5, with an RBI and run scored (now with a .303 batting average, by the way). Yes, Gardner and Figueroa collectively had 5 of the 8 total Yankee hits.

Not a bad way to make your Bronx debut in pinstripes for the young infielder (who started at 3rd today, as well). And not a bad way to once again prove your All-Star status for the veteran outfielder.

Again, today was a lot of good news in Yankee Universe!

Go Yankees!

{Media note: out of town again and relying on slow hotel internet, so I will try to upload when I find better internet or when I’m back with my own wifi. We never realize how much we take all these 21st century luxuries for granted until they start working like we’re still in the 20th century. We are so spoiled. Media links coming soon! Sorry!}

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