Granderson rewarded his manager's faith with a lead-changing two-run triple in New York's four-run sixth inning, while Gardner went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Girardi had been entertaining the idea of playing Austin Kearns in left field as the Yankees prepare to face left-hander Francisco Liriano, but Gardner's relatively small sample against Liriano (3-for-9, triple) entering the game seemed to be enough to sway Girardi's reasoning.
"We talked about it -- Gardy has had some success off Liriano," Girardi said. "We just thought we'd go with Gardy. He's played well all year for us."
Kearns has been battling a bruised left elbow as well as a sore right index finger, having finished the year with eight hits in his last 36 at-bats (.222) and struck out 18 times.
While Girardi used Gardner's track record against Liriano as a factor, he also discounted Granderson's struggles, believing that Granderson changed after hitting coach Kevin Long revamped his swing in August.
Granderson was 4-for-22 (.182) with a home run and three RBIs lifetime against Liriano, but Girardi said, "For Grandy, I don't look at his numbers in the past. He's a different hitter now, we believe.
"You look what he did the last two months, his at-bats off of left-handers," Girardi said. "He was a different guy for us. I know there was a lot of talk about him against left-handers coming into the year, but his at-bats off left-handers were good."