Yankees veteran’s grit displayed in one key at-bat

CLEVELAND — Brett Gardner came to bat with two outs, runners on first and second in the ninth inning. In that situation

CLEVELAND — Brett Gardner came to bat with two outs, runners on first and second in the ninth inning.

In that situation — with the open base third and the AL homer lead on deck — intentionally walking Gardner is against the book with the Yankees up a run. But Judge had looked dreadful all series. He was 1-for-19 with 16 strikeouts, including four in four at-bats to that point in Wednesday’s game.

Gardner had two hits in Game 5 and, though, he had struck out in the fifth, it came at the conclusion of a 12-pitch, left-versus-left battle against the overpowering Andrew Miller.

But Indians manager Terry Francona ignored the small picture of this series, saying, “If we walk [Gardner] and Judge hits a ball 500 feet, I would have a hard time living with that. You’re going to walk a guy to get to a guy that drove in a 100 [runs]. No, that would be hard to do.”

Gardner, though, did what he does best as a hitter — he turned an at-bat into a saga. He had made himself from a fourth-outfield type to an above-average major leaguer by never taking off a pitch, never giving away an at-bat. This was his tour de force.

Cody Allen’s stuff is just a notch down from Miller, but Gardner waged yet another 12-pitch at-bat. He fouled off five straight full-count pitches before he finally darted a single to right to drive home one run and Todd Frazier hustled home for a second when Jay Bruce’s throw back to the infielder bounded away from Francisco Lindor. That gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead and pretty much assured they would win Game 5, clinch this Division Series and move onto the ALCS.

“That was one of the greatest, big-moment at-bats I have ever seen,” said Jim Hendry, a special adviser to Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.

Of the at-bat, Gardner said, “It is an eternity, especially versus a guy with as good a stuff as Cody Allen.”

At the end of the eternity, the longest continuous tenured Yankee had produced one of the biggest hits of his career.

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Article Yankees veteran’s grit displayed in one key at-bat compiled by nypost.com

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