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Brett Gardner comes up big again with go-ahead home run for Yankees

Brett Gardner of the Yankees watches the flight

Brett Gardner of the Yankees watches the flight of his second-inning two-run home run against the Padres at Yankee Stadium on Monday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Aaron Boone called Brett Gardner “one of the heartbeats of our club” — thumping beneath the surface and keeping things going — and in a lot of ways, that’s proving to be true.

Sure, the numbers haven’t been pretty — Gardner went 1-for-2 on Monday to bring his average to .240, his high-water mark this season — but it’s become increasingly obvious that when he has a good day, the Yankees do, too.

On Monday, during their 5-2 win over the Padres, it manifested as a go-ahead two-run homer in the second inning. It was his eighth home run of the season and fifth go-ahead homer this year, four of which have come when the Yankees were trailing.

Since 2017, the Yankees are 30-6 on days when Gardner homers, according to the team.

“He’s one of the tone-setters, the heartbeat of our club,” Boone said. “Certainly, one of our leaders and one of our voices, and he’s been a really good player for a long time and remains that way.”

He also appears to be heating up.

Gardner lined the first pitch he saw from lefthander Matt Strahm — an 89-mph fastball — down the rightfield line  to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

“The stadium has been the same size for a little while and they got 27 outs and we do, too,” he said of Yankee Stadium’s hitter-friendly dimensions in rightfield. “We only had 24. Every field we go to, the dimensions are different, so same for both sides.”

It was his first homer off a lefthander since Aug. 10, 2018. Entering the game, he was 5-for-33 against lefties this season. There was little to no thought of holding him out of the lineup, though, Boone said. Gardner got a day off Sunday and might even face another lefty or two this week, starting Tuesday night with San Diego’s Eric Lauer.

It was a “pretty easy decision” to slot him into that nine-hole, Boone said, and one that immediately paid off.

“I think we played a good game all around,” Gardner said. “It’s great to be back home. We obviously love to play back home . . . Great to hopefully get a new winning streak started today.”

In his last nine games, Gardner is 14-for-30 with two homers, four doubles, a triple and five RBIs. Not including a pinch-hit appearance Sunday, he’s had a hit in eight consecutive starts.

This was the start of a seven-game homestand and that, too, is good news for the outfielder, who has seven home runs and 17 of his 20 RBIs at Yankee Stadium.

Gardner, 35, has been a Yankee for 12 seasons, one more than CC Sabathia.

“He’s tough,” Boone said. “He brings it every day. There’s a blue collar to what he does. Even when you get him out, you never worry about him [being] completely hooked up and locked in. And it’s been good to see him this year not only hit the ball out of the ballpark some, but some big ones.”

New York Sports