Yankee Stadium was packed with 43,180 fans Friday night, the largest crowd the Yankees had played in front of this season, home or road.
The Yankees waited until the very last pitch to send them into euphoria.
Brett Gardner delivered the final blow, smacking a walk-off single in the 11th inning to secure the Yankees’ fourth straight win, 3-2 over the Mariners.
“To be able to come through in that spot, in what feels like such a big game for early August, that’ll never get old,” said Gardner, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning and twice scored run that tied the score before driving in Joey Gallo with the winning run in the 11th.
On their eighth walk-off win of the year, the Yankees (60-49) improved to a season-high 11 games over .500 with their ninth victory in their past 11 games.
They climbed there Friday on the back of their bullpen. In a game that was scheduled to be started by Jordan Montgomery before he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week, nine different relievers — Wandy Peralta, Stephen Ridings, Joely Rodriguez, Clay Holmes, Lucas Luetge, Jonathan Loaisiga, Zack Britton, Chad Green and Albert Abreu — combined to cover 11 innings while giving up just one earned run.
“Tonight was all about them,” Gardner said. “A lot of guys pitching in different roles and earlier in the game than they’re accustomed to. I know that’s not easy. … The guys did really, really good and allowed us to hang around and keep getting opportunities and be able to pull one out.”
The Yankees were shut out for seven innings — 6 ²/₃ of them by Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales — before finally scratching across a run in the eighth, though they were left wanting more.
Former Rays closer Diego Castillo loaded the bases with no outs for Aaron Judge, who smoked a ball to left field for a sacrifice fly that tied the score 1-1. But Giancarlo Stanton came up next and let the air out of the building, grounding the first pitch into an inning-ending double play — the Yankees’ league-leading 103rd twin-killing of the season.
The Yankees had a chance to win it in the ninth inning, with runners on first and second with one out. But Kyle Higashioka popped out and Gardner swung at ball four for another pop-up to send the game to extras.
The Mariners (58-53), now three games behind the Yankees in the AL wild-card race, took the 2-1 lead in the top of the 10th inning when J.P. Crawford led off with an RBI single against Green.
The Yankees were down to their last out in the bottom of the 10th when they fought back to tie it as Stanton found redemption. After Anthony Rizzo flew out and Judge struck out with two runners on, Stanton lined a single to score Gardner from second and tie it at two.
Abreu — the third-to-last pitcher left in the bullpen — then brought order to the game in the top of the 11th. He mowed down the Mariners’ 4-5-6 hitters to strand the automatic runner.
“He’s grown leaps and bounds this year,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Tonight was a huge spot and he delivered.”
With one out in the bottom of the 11th and Gallo on second, the Mariners intentionally walked Rougned Odor for the second time in three innings to bring up Higashioka. The catcher, starting in place of Gary Sanchez (COVID-19), sent a jolt into the crowd with a deep fly ball to left field, but it hooked foul. Higashioka struck out four pitches later.
But Gardner saved the day, falling behind 0-2 before coming back with the game-winning single off Kenyan Middleton.
“We got a lot of work to do,” Stanton said, “but [we’re headed in] the right direction.”