ARLINGTON, Texas -- Brett Gardner started off the eighth inning with a grounder to first base. Looked pretty routine.
Except Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson was a tad late getting off the mound. First baseman Jorge Cantu starting running toward the bag, but realized he wouldn't beat the speedy Gardner.
Cantu flipped the ball to Wilson, but Gardner beat him to the bag with a headfirst slide. It was a single that shouldn't have been. And it started the Yankees on a five-run inning and a 6-5 win.
"As a manager, you hold your breath," Joe Girardi said. "Because a lot of times, that's where you see hands get hurt or shoulders get hurt diving in first base. But he felt it was the right move and it worked out well for us and Gardy always plays extremely hard and we love the way he plays the game."
Derek Jeter followed with an RBI double and the Yankees were on their way.
"Every time the ball comes off the bat I just run hard," Gardner said.
Asked why he dived, Gardner said: "To get there quicker."
Said Alex Rodriguez: "You can't say enough about the at-bats Gardy had, and that was a huge play. And obviously that started everything."