Results tagged ‘ Willie Mays ’

Chapman lighting up jugs gun in record figures

Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman had the Yankee Stadium crowd ooing and ahhing in the ninth inning of Monday night’s 2-1 victory over the Orioles as he threw the five fastest pitches ever tracked by MLB Statcast. They ranged in speeds of 104.0 to 105.1 miles per hour.

Chapman’s 105.1-mph fastball, on the sixth pitch to J.J. Hardy, matched his major-league-record 105.1-mph fastball that was clocked by FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x Sept. 24, 2010 with the Reds against the Padres at San Diego’s Petco Park. Statcast reports that Chapman has a majors-leading 217 pitches of at least 100 mph this season. The next most is 73 by the Braves’ Mauricio Cabrera. According to Statcast, 46.1 percent of Chapman’s 471 total pitches have hit triple digits.

One of Chapman’s No Runs DMC partners, Andrew Miller, had his franchise record streak of consecutive relief appearances with at least one strikeout end at 28, the longest by a major-league reliever since the Indians’ Cody Allen had 29 in a row from Sept. 29 through July 8 last year.

Miller pitched the eighth inning Monday night and retired Manny Machado on a tap to the mound, gave up a single to right-center by Mark Trumbo and got Matt Wieters on a 6-4-3 double play. The DP may be a pitcher’s best friend, but in this case it cost Miller a chance to extend his streak. He will just have to start a new one.

The trio of Chapman, Miller and Dellin Betances has combined for a 2.02 ERA with 26 walks and 191 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.
The Yankees are 18-1 when all three pitch in the same game. In those 19 games, No Runs DMC has teamed to post a 1.21 ERA with 16 walks and 90 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings and held hitters to a .138 batting average in 203 at-bats.

Carlos Beltran went 3-for-4 Monday night, his ninth game this season with at least three hits. He has had three such games in his past 10 games and six his past past 24. Beltran has a slash line of .379/.419/.552 (33- for-87) with 10 runs, six doubles my three home runs, 14 RBI, five walks and a hit by pitch in 24 games and 87 at-bats since April 20.

One off Beltran’s three hits Monday night was a double, career No. 523 to tie Hall of Famer Willie Mays for 45th place on the all- time list. Next up at 524 is Ken Griffey Jr., who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this coming weekend. In 43rd place at 525 is yet another Hall of Famer, Ted Williams. Beltran has 15 seasons with at least 20 doubles, which is tied with Chili Davis for fifth most by a switch hitter in the modern era. The only switch hitters with more such seasons are Eddie Murray (20), Chipper Jones and Pete Rose (18 each) and Roberto Alomar (16).

Alex Rodriguez’s ninth home run of the season and 696th of his career was his 1,758th hit with the Yankees, which broke a tie with Wally Pipp for 17th place on the franchise’s career hit list. A-Rod has 69 career home runs against the Orioles, his second most against any opponent, topped only by the 70 he has slugged against the Angels.

Nathan Eovaldi, back in the rotation to start Tuesday night, is averaging 97.1 mph on his fastball this season, according to FanGraphs’ PITCHf/x, which is the highest average velocity in the American League and the second highest in the majors only to the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (98.1). Eovaldi earned his way back into the rotation by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in three relief outings.

Yanks to honor A-Rod’s 3,000th hit Sept. 13

The Yankees will stage a special pregame ceremony celebrating Alex Rodriguez’s 3,000th career hit prior to their 1:05 p.m. game Sunday, Sept. 13, against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Gates will open two hours before the first pitch at 11 a.m. and fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 12:30 p.m.

Rodriguez became the 29th player in Major League Baseball history to reach the 3,000-hit plateau with a first-inning solo home run June 19 off the Tigers’ Justin Verlander. He is the third player hit a home run as his 3,000th career hit, along with Wade Boggs in 1999 and Derek Jeter in 2011.

A-Rod also joined Jeter as the only players in franchise history to reach 3,000 hits while playing for the Yankees and the only ones to reach the plateau at the Stadium, original or current. With the hit, Rodriguez became one of only three players to collect at least 3,000 career hits and 600 home runs. The others are Willie Mays and Hank Aaron.

Betances does his part in AL All-Star victory

CINCINNATI — American League manager Ned Yost of the Royals came through for Dellin Betances. Aware that Betances never got out of the AL bullpen at last year’s All-Star Game at Minneapolis, Yost told the righthander the seventh inning would be all his Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park.

Betances did his part in the AL’s 6-3 victory that guaranteed home field advantage in the World Series to the league, although that did not help Yost last year as his Royals lost Game 7 at home to the Giants. Blame that on Madison Bumgarner.

The Yankees’ set-up reliever got through the seventh unscathed, much like he has during the regular season. Working with a 5-2 lead thanks to a two-run rally in the top of the inning that was fueled in part by teammate Mark Teixeira, Betances retired Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford on a ground ball to second base. After walking Cubs rookie outfielder Kris Bryant, Betances came back to strike out Giants second baseman Joe Panick, the former St. John’s University standout, and set down Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock on a grounder to third.

In the top of the seventh, Teixeira grounded out to the left side that pushed the Orioles’ Manny Machado to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by the Rangers’ Prince Fielder. Teixeira had a rougher time in the ninth inning as he made the final out of the game striking out on a 103-mph fastball by the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman.

Brett Gardner, the Yankees’ other representative in the game, also had a tough night. He was called out on strikes in both of his at-bats, in the fifth inning against the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and in the eighth against former Yankees teammate Mark Melancon, now the closer for the Pirates.

It was also announced during the All-Star festivities the Franchise Four for each of the 30 clubs in a vote of fans. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America took part in setting up the ballot of eight players from each franchise (full disclosure: I was the BBWAA voter assigned to the Yankees).

It should come as no surprise that the Yanks’ Franchise Four were the team’s Mount Rushmore: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. It is pretty hard to break through that quartet. Younger fans may wonder about Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera considering all the club records they have, but the other four men helped shape the franchise and are among the most decorated players in baseball history.

For the record, the eight players on the Yankees’ ballot in addition to the four were Jeter, Rivera, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford. Believe me, it was hard to leave players like Bill Dickey and Don Mattingly off that list. This was one of those promotions where the Yankees were hurt because of the richness of their history.

There was a nice moment before the game where the four men voted the game’s greatest living players came onto the field — Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Sandy Koufax and Willie Mays. I had three of those players on my ballot but chose Yogi over Koufax in a close call. Some might say that Berra belonged there more than Bench, but even Yogi told me once that he thinks JB was the best catcher who ever lived.

A-Rod’s 3,000th hit also his 667th home run

In his previous quests for landmark hits such as his 500th and 600th home runs, Alex Rodriguez went days without achieving them as at-bat after at-bat piled up. Not so with his 3,000th hit, however.

A-Rod wasted no time in becoming the 29th member of the major leagues’ 3,000 Hit Club Friday night when he hit the first pitch he saw from Detroit’s Justin Verlander for an opposite-field home run with two out in the bottom of the first inning. Rodriguez’s first big-league hit was 21 years ago as a rookie with the Mariners.

His 3,000th hit was also his 667th career home run. The only players other than A-Rod with 3,000 hits and more than 600 home runs are Hall of Famers Henry Aaron and Willie Mays.

Rodriguez joined former teammate Derek Jeter as the only players to reach the 3,000-hit plateau wearing Yankees uniforms. Four other 3,000 Hit Club members played for the Yankees during their careers: Paul Waner, Dave Winfield, Rickey Henderson and Wade Boggs.

A-Rod also became the third player whose 3,000th hit was a home run. The others were Boggs with Tampa Bay in 1999 and Jeter against the Rays at Yankee Stadium in 2011. Rodriguez acknowledged the fans’ applause with a curtain call.

That A-Rod’s 3,000th hit came against a pitcher the caliber of Verlander, a former American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, was not a surprise. Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP, entered the game with a .357 batting average and four home runs in 28 career at-bats against Verlander.

A-Rod’s 660th homer a game winner

Obviously, the best thing about Alex Rodriguez’s 660th home run, which tied him with Willie Mays for fourth place on the career list, was that it was a game winner for the Yankees. A-Rod admitted that he was disappointed when he saw that his name was not in the starting lineup Friday night at Fenway Park as manager Joe Girardi decided to load up on left-handed hitters against Red Sox righthander Justin Masterson.

The Boston starting pitcher was out of the game by the time Rodriguez got a chance to swing the bat in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter against another righthander, reliever Junichi Tazawa. The score was tied. The count went to 3-0. The green light was on. A-Rod swung at the next delivery and drove a smoking liner over the Green Monster for his first career pinch homer and a 3-2 Yankees lead, which held up thanks to the 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in the bullpen.

It was an eventful way to start off the trip, a victory over division and traditional rival Boston on a chilly evening at Fenway where A-Rod’s major-league career began 21 years ago. Again, the bullpen came through with four scoreless innings of one-hit, three-strikeout relief. Miller secured his ninth save to preserve a winning decision for fellow reliever Esmil Rogers, who pitched a shutout seventh.

CC Sabathia went the first six innings and was dependable if not spectacular. The lefthander allowed only two runs but caught big breaks when potential RBI doubles bounced over fences to keep two other runners from scoring. Sabathia walked two batters and struck out three and remains winless for the season.

The Yankees got Sabathia off the hook in the seventh when his catcher, Brian McCann, tied the score with a two-out, RBI single, a rare clutch hit for the Yankees on a night when they stranded 12 base runners. Their first run was also delivered with two out, on a double by Carlos Beltran in the first inning.

The Red Sox took the lead in the fourth on Allen Craig’s first home run of the season. But it would be another home run that altered the course of the game for the Yankees.

Jeter moves up on All-Star lists

Derek Jeter’s election as the American League’s starting shortstop in next week’s All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis marks the ninth time in his career that he has been voted in the fan balloting to start the game. He received 3,928,422 votes, which raised his career total to 47,433,242, second only to Ken Griffey Jr., the all-time leader with 50,045,065 total votes.

This year will mark the 14th All-Star appearance for Jeter as he passed former teammate Mariano Rivera and Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio into third place on the franchise list behind two other Hall of Famers, Mickey Mantle (20) and Yogi Berra (18).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jeter is the only active player to be named to the All-Star Game with his current team at least 14 times. The record for All-Star Games by a player for only one team is 24 by Hall of Famer Stan Musial with the Cardinals. Hank Aaron was on 25 All-Star Game rosters — 24 with the Braves and one with the Brewers. Willie Mays played in 23 All-Star Games with the Giants and one with the Mets. The AL record is 19 games by Ted Williams with the Red Sox and Cal Ripken Jr. with the Orioles.

The other two Yankees on the AL squad are newcomers to the process, pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances. This will be the first time the Yankees have had two rookies attending the All-Star Game.

These are all good choices, but I think more consideration should have been given to David Robertson and Brett Gardner. Rivera used to be an automatic choice. D-Rob isn’t at Mo’s level yet, but he has easily been one of the best closers in the league and leads AL pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings. Gardner got lost in the abundance of outfielders, but he has been the Yankees’ steadiest offensive player and remains the league’s top defensive left fielder.

Gardner got hits in his first two at-bats Monday night at Cleveland and has reached base safely in 22 straight games with a plate appearance since June 13. It is the longest such streak for the Yankees since Robinson Cano reached base safely in 26 straight games in 2012 from June 20 to July 20. It also matches Gardner’s longest such streak from 2009. He has hit safely in 18 of those 22 games.

Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki with three singles apiece Sunday at Minnesota became the third pair of teammates each in their 40s in major-league history to get at least three hits in the same game, joining the 1928 Philadelphia Athletics’ Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker and the 2006 San Francisco Giants’ Barry Bonds and Moises Alou. Elias also pointed out that notes Saturda, Jeter and Suzuki became the first pair of 40-year-old teammates with a stolen base in the same game since Bonds and Omar Vizquel for the Giants in 2007.

Prior to Monday night’s game at Progressive Field, the Indians organization paid tribute to the team’s late TV/radio personality Mike Hegan, who died last Christmas Day of a heart condition at the age of 71. Hegan was originally signed by the Yankees in 1961 and played for them in two separate stints. He was the son of former Indians All-Star catcher Jim Hegan, who later was a bullpen coach with the Yankees.

Mike Hegan spent 12 seasons in the majors and had some distinctions. With the expansion Seattle Pilots in 1969, he hit the first home run for that franchise and made the AL All-Star team. The Pilots lasted only one season in Seattle and moved in 1970 to Milwaukee and became the Brewers.

Hegan was a member of the Oakland A’s team that won the first of three straight World Series in 1972 before returning to the Yankees. Mike was the last player to bat in the original Yankee Stadium Sept. 30, 1973 in a loss to the Tigers. By the time the Yankees opened the renovated Stadium, Hegan was back in Milwaukee. I was working in Detroit in the 1970s and was at Tiger Stadium covering the Sept. 3, 1976 game when Hegan hit for the cycle.

After his playing days, Hegan went into the broadcast booth with the Brewers for 12 seasons before returning to his hometown Cleveland and working Indians games for 23 seasons. A heart ailment forced him into retirement after the 2012 season.

Jeter re-ups for 20th big-league season

Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte may be leaving the Yankees but not Derek Jeter. The captain signed a one-year contract for $12 million Friday and intends to be healthy for the 2014 season.

Jeter, 39, is a career .312 hitter with the ninth highest total of hits (3,316), among which are 525 doubles, 65 triples and 256 home runs. DJ has scored 1,876 runs, driven in 1,261 and stolen 348 bases in 2,602 games over 19 major-league seasons, all with the Yankees (1995-2013). A five-time World Series champion (1996, 1998-2000, ’09), 13-time All-Star (1998-2002, ’04, ’06-12) and five-time Gold Glove Award winner (2004-06, ’09-10), Jeter will become the longest-tenured player in franchise history with his first game played in 2014, breaking the record he currently shares with Rivera.

In 2013, Jeter batted .190 with eight runs, one double, one home run and seven RBI in 17 games (13 starts at shortstop, four at designated hitter) and 63 at-bats. He missed 145 games during four stints on the disabled list. Prior to last season, he had been on the DL only five times and missed just 82 games.

Jeter is a five-time Silver Slugger Award recipient (2006-09, ’12) with eight career 200-hit seasons, including a majors-leading 216 hits in 2012. Prior to last season, Jeter had a 17-season streak (1996-2012) of at least 150 hits per season, matching Hank Aaron (1955-71) for the longest such stretch in major-league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Jeter, who was named the 11th captain in team history June 3, 2003, is the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits, games, stolen bases, at-bats, singles (2,470) and hit by pitches (164). He also ranks second in doubles (Lou Gehrig-534), third in runs (Babe Ruth -1,959, Gehrig-1,888) and ninth in homers. No active player has appeared in more games for his current team than DJ, who is 10th all-time in games played among big leaguers who have spent their entire careers with one club.

Additionally, Jeter is one of just two players in Major League history, along with Willie Mays, to record at least 3,000 hits, 250 home runs, 300 stolen bases and 1,200 RBI in their careers.

Born in Pequannock, N.J., and raised in Kalamazoo, Mich., Jeter was selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 1992 First-Year Player Draft (sixth pick overall). In 1996, he established the “Turn 2” Foundation to create and support signature programs and activities that motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol and “Turn 2” healthy lifestyles. As a result of Turn 2’s programs and his other good works off the field, Jeter was honored by Major League Baseball with the 2009 Roberto Clemente Award, which is given annually to the player who combines a dedication to giving back to the community with outstanding skills on the baseball field.

RBI coming in bunches for Soriano

Watching Alfonso Soriano drive in six runs Tuesday night reminded me of the story about the former Brooklyn Dodgers manager Chuck Dressen back in the days of their heated rivalry with the New York Giants.

After watching Willie Mays make a spectacular catch in center field to rob one of the Dodgers hitters of an extra-base hit, Dressen snarled in the dugout, “I’d like to see him do that again!”

So for all those detractors out there who might have said the same thing about him, Soriano had a ready answer. He went out and did it again – and thensome – the very next night.

By the second inning Wednesday night, Soriano had already matched his career-best RBI total set the night before. The crowd at Yankee Stadium went wild when he connected for his fifth career grand slam in the first inning, an impressive blow to center field off of one of the best pitchers in the American League, Angels righthander Jered Weaver.

It climaxed a two-out rally featuring a single by Robinson Cano (the first of his four hits), a double by Alex Rodriguez and a walk to Curtis Granderson. The Yankees batted around in the second inning to put up four more runs on RBI singles by Cano and Granderson and a two-run double by Soriano. That gave him six RBI for the second straight game.

Soriano broke his personal mark for RBI in a game that had stood for one day when he led off the fifth inning with his second home run of the game and fourth in two games. It marked the third time in his career that Soriano has had back-to-back multi-homer games. Soriano had a shot at an eighth RBI when he batted in the seventh after Granderson led off with a double, but the Angels finally got smart and just walked him.

Always a favorite with Stadium crowds, he was serenaded with rhythmic chants of “Sor-i-a-no!” all night long. And why not? He has been just what the Yankees needed when acquired from the Cubs prior to the non-waiver trade deadline last month. The Yanks had long been need for a power bat from the right side, and Soriano has provided that. He has 22 RBI in 17 games with the Yankees while batting .258 with seven home runs in 66 at-bats.

Soriano had been in a funk for about a week leading up to his 2,000th hit, a home run Sunday against the Tigers that set him off on the current streak in which he is 6-for-14 (.429) with four homers and 13 RBI. He has always been a streaky hitter. The Yankees are enjoying the ride on his current streak.
Soriano has helped revive an element that had been missing largely from the Yankees’ attack this year – the long ball. The Yankees have homered in five consecutive games and 18 times in their past 15 games after being held homerless in nine straight games from July 19-27.

Armed with an 8-0 lead after two innings, Ivan Nova pitched with confidence and efficiency to raise his record to 6-4. The righthander allowed 10 hits but no walks, although he hit a batter. It was the seventh straight start in which Nova pitched at least seven innings and allowed three runs or less, another good sign that he has found a permanent home in the rotation.

So the Yankees who had gone a month without winning two consecutive games have now won four in a row and have the opportunity to complete a sweep of the Angels Thursday before going to Boston over the weekend for a three-game set against the American League East-leading Red Sox.

Gardner saves Rivera again

Brett Gardner came to Mariano Rivera’s rescue again. The way Gardner looked at it, a Yankees hitter picking up Mo was due for all the game’s greatest closer has meant to the team the past 19 seasons.

“I think Mo has bailed us out quite a few times,” Gardner said. “Things like that happen.”

Well, not quite. Rivera had never blown three consecutive save opportunities before the past five days nor had he ever allowed two home runs in a save opportunity. That was the case Sunday when trying to nail down a 4-2 victory over the Tigers Mo gave up solo shots to Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez that tied the score.

“There’s always a first time,” Rivera said. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff; just go out there and do my job. The last three opportunities, I haven’t done it. You have to continue battling.”

But in the last two of those blown-save situations, the Yankees came back to win the game with Gardner getting the climactic hit each time. Friday night after Cabrera stunned Rivera with a two-run bomb over Monument Park in the top of the ninth, Gardner won it for the Yankees with a single in the bottom of the 10th. Sunday it was Gardner who put the Yankees over the top again with his first career walk-off home run, off Jose Veras.

“That’s the first time I ever hit a walk-off homer and might be the last,” Gardner said. “I’ve had a couple of seeing-eye singles, up the middle and through the left side, but never a home run like that. It felt good. It didn’t matter if it was me or somebody else; we just needed to get a win today. I was glad we made it happen.”

It was a happening all right. The Yankees won two of three games from the club with the best record in the American League. It was the first winning series for the Yankees since July 5-7 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Before Sunday, the Yankees had endured eight consecutive non-winning series (five losses, three splits), their longest such stretch in 22 years.

Gardner’s walk-off homer was the second of the season for the Yankees. The other was by Ichiro Suzuki June 25 against the Rangers at the Stadium. Gardner’s eight home runs are the most he has hit in one season. With 23 career homers, the Yankees are 20-3 in those games.

Rivera allowed two home runs in a game for the fifth time in his career and the first time since May 7, 2009 to the Rays’ Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria. Sunday was the first time Mo was taken deep twice in a save opportunity, however.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings, the fewest runs he has allowed in a game since June 8 at Seattle and the fewest in a game at the Stadium since April 4 against the Red Sox. The run off Pettitte came in the first inning, marking the eighth straight start in which he has been scored upon in the first inning, equaling a franchise-record streak by Javier Vazquez from April 3 to May 15, 2011.

With his first home run of the season, Alex Rodriguez passed Stan Musial into fifth place in career RBI with 1,951. It was career homer No. 648 for A-Rod, who is 12 behind fourth-place Willie Mays on the all-time list.

Alfonso Soriano’s solo home run (No. 20) in the fourth inning was his 2,000th career hit. The Elias Sports Bureau reported that Soriano is one of four players who made their major league debuts with the Yankees in the past 60 years to get at least 2,000 career hits, joining Derek Jeter (3,308), Bernie Williams (2,336) and Don Mattingly (2,153). Sori also joined the Red Sox’ David Ortiz as the only players to hit at least 20 homers in each of the past 12 seasons (2002-13).

David Robertson allowed a solo home run to Brayan Pena at the start of the eighth inning. It ended D-Rob’s 20 1/3-inning scoreless stretch dating to June 19. Robertson still has a streak of holding opponents hitless each of their past 23 at-bats with runners on base.

Gardner pulled off an ‘Endy Chavez play’

I remember the first time I walked out on the field at Citi Field the year it opened in 2009 and looked at the left field wall and thought what a mistake the Mets made. Instead of an eight-foot high fence such as the one at old Shea Stadium, the same area at Citi Field had a 16-foot wall that resembled the old San Diego Stadium, later known as Jack Murphy Stadium and Qualcomm Stadium.

Whatever name the San Diego yard had, it was a lousy idea to have such a wall around the outfield because it took away the possibility of an outfielder making a home run-robbing catch. I remember Dave Winfield making a fence-climbing grab in left field at Yankee Stadium during a playoff game in 1981 and telling me afterwards, “I couldn’t have done that in San Diego.”

In the same vein, one of the Mets’ greatest postseason moments at Shea could not have occurred at Citi Field in its first three seasons. Left fielder Endy Chavez’s leaping, glove-extending grab of a drive by Scott Rolen denied the Cardinals third baseman a two-run home run in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series.

I covered that game for MLB.com and recall writing a story that rated Chavez’s play with those of other New York outfielders in postseason play, such as the World Series catches by the Dodgers’ Al Gionfriddo off the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio in 1947, the Giants’ Willie Mays off the Indians’ Vic Wertz in 1954, the Dodgers’ Sandy Amoros off the Yankees’ Yogi Berra in 1955, the Yankees’ Mickey Mantle off the Dodgers’ Gil Hodges in 1956, the two beauties by the Mets’ Tommie Agee off the Orioles’ Elrod Hendricks and Paul Blair in 1969 and the Yankees’ Paul O’Neill’s hamstring-straining, game-ending rundown of a drive by the Braves’ Luis Polonia in 1996.

Although the Mets eventually lost the game and the series, Chavez’s catch has been defined as the greatest defensive play in Shea’s history, with only Ron Swoboda’s belly-flop snaring of a Brooks Robinson liner in Game 4 of the 1969 World Series qualifying as a rival, another play to which I referred in the 2006 NLCS story.

All of this came to mind Monday night when Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner took away a potential two-run home run by Daniel Murphy in the sixth inning that preserved at the time a 1-0 lead for the Bombers. Gardner was able to make such a smashing play because the Mets had the good sense to change the dimensions prior to the 2012 season.

Part of the reason for the change was that Mets right-handed hitters, particularly David Wright, the face of the franchise, were getting psyched out by the unfriendly distances. Wright and his pals would continually watch well-struck drives turn into 400-foot outs. But the best part may have been the erection of an eight-foot fence in front of the previous one. It created a party deck that has been a featured seating section and has allowed the outfielders to have a chance to act like Jesse James once in a while.

“Thank goodness it’s a part of the park where it’s a fence, not a wall,” Gardner said after the game. “The poles out there have got some pretty good pads in front of them, so I’m fine. It wouldn’t be as difficult if I was a little taller [5-foot-10]. You’ve just got to hope that you’re able to get a good clean jump. You want to get back there close to the fence as possible, but you don’t want to run into the fence or hit the fence on the way up. I was able to time it just right.”

It was a gem of a play, one that pitcher Phil Hughes called the best catch he ever saw from the mound. It certainly was reminiscent of the play Chavez made. Unfortunately for the Yankees, it was also similar to Chavez’s play in that the opposition came back to win the game.