Gardner pinch hit for despite strong ALDS

Brett Gardner not happy with the call from

Brett Gardner not happy with the call from the home plate umpire dan Iassogna in the top of the third inning. (Oct. 4, 2011) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

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DETROIT -- After the first three games of this American League Division Series against the Tigers, the Yankees had three hits with runners in scoring position. Brett Gardner had two of them.

Also through the first three games, only one Yankee had been pinch hit for: Brett Gardner.

Joe Girardi's decision to pinch hit Eric Chavez for Gardner in the seventh inning of Game 2 on Sunday because he wanted a three-run home run down 4-0 was a head-scratcher. Even more so because Gardner had hit a two-run single in Game 1 the day before and had a better ratio of at-bats to home runs this season than Chavez, who struck out on three pitches against Joaquin Benoit.

It was Gardner who hit the tying two-run double off Justin Verlander in the seventh inning of the Yankees' 5-4 loss in Game 3 on Monday night. Gardner went into Tuesday night second on the team in RBIs in the series with four. Robinson Cano had six.

"In the postseason, you never know where your hits are going to come from and where your runs are going to come from," Girardi said before the Yankees tried to stave off elimination in Game 4 at Comerica Park. "The big thing is you get them. And he's been a big part of it."

So would Girardi bat for Gardner again in an RBI spot against a righthander?

"I think you have to look at the game and who is in the game and who he's facing," Girardi said. "I've been very impressed with his at-bats, his ability to get on base. He had the bunt base hit as well and the big two-run double [Monday night]. He swung the bat pretty well for us."

Gardner went into Game 4 batting .333 (3-for-9) in the series with a walk. The only Yankee with a higher average was Jorge Posada, who was 4-for-8.

"It doesn't matter where we are in the course of the game, obviously you want to hit," Gardner said. "That's not my decision. I've been pinch hit for plenty of times before and I'm sure it's not the last. It's one of those things. If you don't like it, play better. I've been swinging the bat pretty well."

In his first at-bat Tuesday night, Gardner again came up with runners in scoring position. It was a scoreless tie in the third inning with runners on first and second. Girardi called on Gardner to bunt against Rick Porcello. After a called strike and foul bunt, Gardner was allowed to swing away. But he took a called third strike for the first out.

Derek Jeter followed with a two-run double to center to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

In the fifth, the lead was 2-1 when Gardner batted with Russell Martin on first and nobody out. Bunt again? No. Gardner blooped a single to left and the Yankees went on to score two runs to take a 4-1 lead to the bottom of the fifth.

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