NY Yankees 3, Tampa Bay 2
When: 1:05 PM ET, Saturday, April 23, 2016
Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Ted Barrett, 1B -
Ben May, 2B -
Angel Hernandez, 3B -
NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner's ninth-inning at-bat began with him thinking about getting on first base, stealing second and letting Carlos Beltran drive him in.
It evolved to him getting a favorable count and anticipating a fastball.
And when Gardner guessed right, the swing turned into a dramatic game-winning home run with two out, giving the New York Yankees a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
"Not necessarily," Gardner said when asked if he was trying to go deep. "Early in the at-bat, I was thinking about laying a bunt down and trying to steal second and give Carlos a shot at it.
"(First baseman Steve) Pearce was kind of playing with me over there a little bit. He started out back and then he came up. I saw him moving in. Once I went 2-1 and then he missed with 3-1, I felt like I was going to get a fastball to hit. It was just a matter of where."
The where part for Gardner was a fastball by Erasmo Ramirez (4-1) over the plate slightly above the knees. Once Gardner connected, the ball turned landed in the second deck at in right field and touched off a wild celebration at the plate.
"If he was going to hit something hard or if a homer was gone, it had to be to the opposite side, but I didn't execute the pitch," Ramirez said. "He was looking for something around the strike zone and hit it as hard as he can and he did."
Gardner's second career home walk-off home run and sixth such hit of his career ensured Beltran along with the rest of the Yankees would be meeting the left fielder at the plate to mob him and celebrate New York's second straight win and seventh in 16 games this season.
"He's got pop," Yankees catcher Brian McCann said. "The 2-1 pitch was that whole at-bat. Carlos on deck, everyone knows a fastball's coming. He put a big swing on it and hit it a long way."
Before Gardner's dramatic drive, the Yankees got their first two runs in unconventional ways.
New York scored first on a wild pitch by Blake Snell during an at-bat to Alex Rodriguez, who ended the first by getting robbed of a two-run home run by left fielder Desmond Jennings.
The Yankees held the lead until the fourth when Corey Dickerson doubled over Gardner's head and Kevin Kiermaier homered off the right field foul pole in the sixth.
New York finally got some kind of rally going with two outs in the seventh.
With a 2-2 count, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on catcher's interference for the third time this season. Gardner followed with a hard ground ball that deflected off left-hander Xavier Cedeno's glove and allowed McCann to score the tying run.
"It was a little different," Gardner said. "It's not how you would draw it up. But at this point we'll take it any way we can get it."
The Rays unveiled Snell, their top pitching prospect and he did not disappoint. Snell settled in after a shaky first and allowed one run and two hits in five innings.
Snell was in line to become the first starting pitcher to win his major league debut in New York since Anibal Sanchez June 25, 2006, for the Florida Marlins.
He struck out six and threw 90 pitches. One of those strikeouts was of Rodriguez, whose 1994 debut with the Seattle Mariners came when Snell was a 1-year old.
Tampa Bay lost for the 19th time in its last 29 visits to New York and scored three runs or fewer for the 13th time this season. Other than the fourth and sixth, they had little offense against Tanaka.
"Offensively, it was a little bit of a, it was a lot of a grind," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We just couldn’t quite get anything going off Tanaka. He was really tough, he kept the ball down, and we knew that coming in, but it’s still, it’s still tough to lay off some pitches.
"They get the lead, they turn it over to the two big boys and that's how they're going to win ballgames."
NOTES: New York OF Aaron Hicks was unavailable Saturday because of a sore left shoulder he injured trying to make a diving catch in the fourth inning Friday. After the game, manager Joe Girardi said Hicks has bursitis and will be unable to do any activity for four to five days. ... The Rays optioned RHP Danny Farquhar to Triple-A Durham to make room for LHP Blake Snell. It is Tampa Bay's first transactions this season. By their 17th game last season, the Rays had made 22 moves and this is the deepest the team has gone into a season without a transaction since 2007. ... New York RHP Branden Pinder has a partial tear of his UCL and will decide in a few days to undergo Tommy John surgery or rehab the injury. Pinder was placed on the disabled list Friday and the original diagnosis was a strained right elbow.
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