Postgame notes: Trapped at the Trop

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
8:50
PM ET
St. PETERSBURG -- Brett Gardner doesn't hit many home runs, but when the final tally on his career is added up, it will show one fewer home run than he should have had.

Gardner was victimized twice in the fourth inning of Sunday's 5-1 Yankees win over the Tampa Bay Rays, first by the acting job of right-fielder Wil Myers, who pretended he caught Gardner's drive to the top of the wall when he really trapped it on a carom, and again by first-base umpire Rob Drake, who called Gardner out when he should have treated the play as a live ball, which is what it was.

[+] EnlargeBrett Gardner
AP Photo/Mike CarlsonYankees' Brett Gardner finished Sunday's win over the Rays 2-for-5 with an RBI.
If called correctly, Gardner was entitled to a two-run, inside-the-park home run, and perhaps we all would have been spared the 4-1/2 hour, 12-inning marathon that followed. Instead, after a challenge by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the hit was ruled a ground-rule double, the Yankees got only one run, and Gardner was deprived of a treat he only gets to enjoy about five times a year.

"I feel like that, because you're taught to keep going and the right-fielder knew he didn't catch the ball," Gardner said. "So basically you're penalizing me for keeping going and you're rewarding him for acting like he caught it when he knew he didn't catch it. That's what I was confused about."

Joe West, the crew chief, told Gardner the determination was made by replay central up in New York. Girardi said he had no recourse other to accept New York's ruling. "It's a judgment on them, and [second] is where they decided he would have ended up," Girardi said. "It has nothing to do with the umpires on the field."

So the bottom line, as Girardi likes to say, is that Myers and the Rays were rewarded for lying, and Gardner was penalized despite following the rules.

An added irony: It was in this same park in 2010 where the Yankees benefited from an acting job by Derek Jeter, who pretended -- with some very convincing and painful-looking histrionics -- to have been hit by a pitch when, he admitted afterward, he really wasn't.

Strange substitution: Girardi decided to pinch run for Jeter after the Captain opened the 11th-inning with a single, which is fine. But he replaced the 39-year-old Jeter with 40-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, which is unusual, to say the least. And a little strange. At first, Girardi said he did it because he thought Ichiro gave the Yankees a better chance to steal a base. But under prodding, he admitted the obvious: that Jeter has lost a step or two on the basepaths.

“That's just part of it," Girardi said. "You have to weigh everything, so I went for it that inning.”

Welcome back: Preston Claiborne was recalled from Triple-A Scranton late Saturday night, arrived at Tropicana Field about an hour before the game -- and left with the win, working the final two innings and benefiting greatly by the three tack-on runs the Yankees added after Dean Anna's bases-loaded walk broke a 1-1 tie.

Claiborne allowed a leadoff double to Yunel Escobar in the 12th, then issued a four-pitch walk to Jose Molina. Ben Zobrist hit the ball hard to right, but Carlos Beltran ran it down, and then Claiborne got Logan Forsythe to fly out harmlessly to end the game, leaving the dangerous Evan Longoria on deck.

Tex back: In his first game back since coming off the disabled list, Mark Teixeira hit the ball hard three times, including two singles. He also made an error on a routine grounder in the eighth inning, his third in five games so far this year.
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
12 2.51 135 129
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 70
RB. Gardner 82
OPSB. Gardner .752
ERAH. Kuroda 3.77
SOH. Kuroda 137