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More starts, more comfort for Gardner

More starts, more comfort for Gardner

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NEW YORK -- Yankees newcomer Brett Gardner hasn't quite found his offensive rhythm yet.

Through 13 games, he is batting .174 -- the only Yankees player batting below the .200 mark.

But despite his low numbers, Gardner continues to show up in the Yankees' lineup. The young outfielder has played in 12 of the Yankees' 14 games since his Major League debut on June 30 and has not been out of the starting lineup for consecutive games.

"I think the kid's handling it pretty well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "The thing about being a young guy like he is, you don't know any of the pitchers.

"You're facing them for the first time, and you have no idea what they're going to do to you. And his at-bats are good, considering that's what he's going through."

While he may not have stood at the plate against many big league pitchers before his big league career began, Gardner prepares for all of the pitchers he faces to get an idea of what's coming.

"You talk to guys who have faced them, you look at the scouting report you have on them," Gardner said. "You figure out what kind of stuff they have, how they like to pitch to guys like myself and look at video."

Gardner will get his first look at A's All-Star right-hander Justin Duchscherer on Sunday afternoon. Duchscherer has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his 16 starts this year.

The 24-year-old Gardner is known more for his speed than his bat. Gardner stole 34 bases in 80 games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season and recorded five stolen bases in his first nine games with the Yankees.

His quickness has also made him a leading candidate to lay down bunts and attempt to run them out while advancing runners. But Girardi said that's not all he expects from Gardner.

"I don't necessarily want him to just be the bunt man [every] at-bat," Girardi said. "I want him to hit doubles. I mean, [if] he hits the ball in the gap, it's a triple probably."

Almost on cue, Gardner legged out his first Major League double on a sharp ground ball on Saturday as part of a 2-for-6 performance. He couldn't turn it into a triple, but it marked his third multihit game with the Yankees.

Gardner couldn't connect on two chances to win the game with two outs, popping out both times. But Gardner said that while he's been comfortable during his entire time in New York, he felt better at the plate on Saturday than he has since he was first called up.

"I felt like I was a little more aggressive, swung the bat a little better and just missed some pitches," Gardner said. "I feel like I'm getting more consistent with my swing, I'm getting more aggressive and I'm where I need to be."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP Andy Pettitte (10-7, 4.03 ERA)
Pettitte's successful first half of the season came to a disappointing end during his last start, against the Blue Jays. The veteran left-hander allowed a four-run second inning before taking his seventh loss of the season. The biggest blow came off the bat of infielder Marco Scutaro, who hit a three-run home run to left to break the game open. Pettitte managed to settle down after that, though, and completed six innings, allowing eight hits while striking out six. In all of Pettitte's losses this season, he has surrendered at least seven hits. He is 9-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 18 career starts against Oakland.

OAK: RHP Justin Duchscherer (10-5, 1.82 ERA)
Two days before appearing in Tuesday's All-Star Game, Duchscherer pitched 7 2/3 solid innings against the Angels, giving up just two runs on five hits, while walking two and striking out three in a no-decision. He has yet to surrender more than three earned runs in a game, and his last start marked the 15th time in 16 starts he walked two batters or fewer. Duchscherer will look to follow up his stellar first half with a strong start against the Yankees, whom the righty beat in his only career start against them. Duchscherer gave up one run on five hits through seven innings while striking out four against the Yankees earlier this year.

Tidbits
Johnny Damon said he felt good after taking several swings during batting practice on Saturday. "I made it pretty clear to them that I'm ready," Damon said. "I don't think swinging a bat right now is going to aggravate it. It felt pretty good this morning. It's going to be stiff probably until the offseason, but we'll get it ready and get a full range of motion." Damon is expected to start throwing on Sunday. He was placed on the disabled list on July 6 with a sprain of the AC joint in his left shoulder. ... With a perfect eighth inning on Saturday, right-hander Kyle Farnsworth recorded his ninth straight scoreless outing. ... Jason Giambi is 5-for-7 at the plate in his career against Duchscherer.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES, TBS

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Monday: Yankees (Sidney Ponson, 5-1, 3.96) vs. Twins (Nick Blackburn, 7-5, 3.65), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Tuesday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 5-7, 4.97) vs. Twins (Kevin Slowey, 6-6, 4.26), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 12-6, 3.49) vs. Twins (Glen Perkins, 7-2, 3.84), 1:05 p.m. ET

Samantha Newman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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