NEW YORK – As he approached first base, Brett Gardner fired his right arm in the air and looked toward the Yankees bench.
His teammates had already rushed to the top step, cheering along with the crowd of Yankee Stadium in Gardner's home run in the seventh inning on Wednesday night.
Not just a homer, but a grand slam.
And the 100th homer in Gardner's career, a right-wing explosion, elevated the Yankees to a 5-3 victory and plunged the Red Sox into another unimaginable depth in this awful month of April for the world champions.
"It feels good to go through such a big place," Gardner said after the Yankees' clubs transformed into a nightclub to celebrate victory, with strobe lights and a fog machine.
"I could not even see anyone here," Clint Frazier said of the scene.
The Yankees' staff recovered the important home run for Gardner, who exchanged some autographs and posed for photos with the fanatic who caught him.
The Yankees (8-9), who were plagued by injuries, also stumbled, failing to take advantage of a smooth calendar before the Red Sox (6-13) arrived in the city for a two-game series.
"We need a little kickstart," Gardner said. These first weeks we have been moving forward. "Just with all the injuries and all the movements on the list and things like that, sometimes it's been frustrating."
But left-hander James Paxton's strong effort on Tuesday and Gardner's late heroics on Wednesday suddenly provoked the Yankees.
Now, Aaron Boone's club has a golden opportunity to maintain that momentum while the Kansas City Royals, who reside in last place in Central American League, enter the Bronx to play a four-game series that will begin on Thursday night.
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Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi yielded only one unearned run in six innings, but he threw 104 pitches. Brandon Workman started the seventh at home, to protect a 3-1 lead in Boston. And the reliever was instantly in trouble.
Clint Frazier opened the inning with his third hit of the game and Mike Tauchman, who drove in four runs the night before and hit his first career home run, drew a walk.
With one out, No.9 hitter Austin Romine walked to load the bases and Boston manager Alex Cora brought in Ryan Brasier to face Gardner, the Yanks' most experienced player.
There are no lefties in Cora's bullpen.
Ahead 0 and 2, Brasier saw how her next delivery was screaming to the seats in the bottom right field.
Gardner's personal home run, also his fourth of the year and fourth career Grand Slam, gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead instantly and set off a chorus of mocking Boston chants throughout the Stadium.
J.A. The start of Happ
By delivering eight scoreless innings on Tuesday night, Yankees starter James Paxton was the author of a lesson on how to attack the Red Sox lineup.
And if someone needed instructions to get back from a bad start to 2019, it was J.A. Happ
On Wednesday night, it took Happ until the third inning to settle at Yankee Stadium.
But the damage inflicted by Boston in the first two innings was enough to leave him without a decision.
Happ was hurt again by Homer, giving a solo shot to J.D. Martinez in the first inning and a flurry of two runs to Christian Vazquez in the second.
The veteran lefty finished pitching in the seventh inning, accused of three runs, six hits on a walk and four strikeouts.
But now he has served six homers in his first four starts, covering 18 1/2 innings.
"Probably four or five guys came and they said we're going to win this game," Happ said of the general feeling that if he kept the Red Sox there, the Yankees would find their way back.
And Gardner was one of the guys who gave that talk to Happ.
"Indeed, Gardy comes through," said Happ.
There was also a funny moment, as Happ tried to throw a shot to first base between his legs, while facing the home plate, in a hit of Rafael Devers' box in the fourth.
Tommy Kahnle got the last two outs in the seventh, Adam Ottavino rounded the tie runs at the base in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman finished the ninth inning.
And news for Boston continued its downward trend, as veteran second baseman Dustin Pedroia came out in the second inning due to discomfort in his left knee.