Yankees right fielder Shelley Duncan stretches out to catch a fly ball for the second out of a game with Toledo Sunday afternoon.Don Carey/the times leader
MOOSIC – The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees have been waiting all season to put it all together in one game.
It finally happened on Sunday, and the result was impressive.
Pitcher Jeff Karstens flirted with a perfect game, Shelley Duncan made a spectacular diving catch and had four RBI, and Brett Gardner stole two bases and also made a great catch.
It all added up to a 10-1 romp over Toledo in arguably the best performance of the season for manager Dave Miley’s squad.
“The key to scoring runs is production from the top of the lineup,” Miley said. “Gardner had four walks, two stolen bases and scored three runs. Shelley Duncan made a great catch and had a bases loaded double, which was huge.”
Karstens made a strong bid for a possible return to New York. The right-hander retired the first 16 batters before Jackson Melian reached first base on a fielding error by third baseman Eric Duncan with one out in the top of the sixth inning.
Dane Sardinha followed with a double to center field, breaking up Karstens’ bid for a no-hitter. Melian went to third, and then scored Toledo’s only run on a single by Freddy Guzman.
Karstens (2-3) was a bit taken back by his brilliant effort, because he wasn’t comfortable when he took the mound.
“I really didn’t feel good,” he said. “I didn’t have my legs under me. But then I settled in and mixed my pitches well.
“My slider and changeup were working, and I threw my curveball to get ahead,” Karstens added. “Our guys put up a lot of runs, which helped a lot.”
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (46-32) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and broke the game open in the fourth.
The Yankees sent 12 batters to the plate and scored six runs to take a 7-0 lead. The key hit was a two-run single by Justin Christian that scored Gardner and Chris Stewart.
They forged ahead 10-0 on Duncan’s two-out bases loaded double in the fifth inning that cleared the bags. Duncan wound up with four RBI, even though he was 1-for-5.
However, the right fielder’s most important contribution may have been his great catch in the third inning. Melian hit a high fly ball down the right-field line, which Duncan ran down and caught—landing face first on the ground.
“I didn’t really think I had a chance to catch it,” Duncan said. “I just stayed on it and it landed in my glove.”
Gardner, the Yankees leadoff hitter, also had a sensational game. He manufactured a run by stealing second and third base in the first inning.
He now leads the International League in stolen bases with 29.
“Steals are just a matter of taking advantage of the opportunity,” said Gardner, the fastest runner in New York’s entire organization. “I just wanted to get to third and give Shelley the chance to bring me in.”
Gardner’s speed was never more obvious than in the Toledo ninth, when he tracked down a towering blast by Brent Clevlen. The ball appeared to be well out of Gardner’s reach.
“He hit it really well,” Gardner said. “I wasn’t sure I was going to catch it, but I caught up with it.”
Gardner wasn’t surprised by Sunday’s onslaught by the Yankees, which was only their second win in six games.
“I knew it would turn around with our offense and pitching. Karstens was lights out.”
According to Duncan, the Yankees can’t rest on their laurels after Sunday’s big win.
“This is a special team. We have the potential play like this every night.”
NEXT GAME: 7 p.m. today vs. Columbus
PITCHERS: Yankees Kei Igawa (LHP, 6-4, 3.74 ERA) vs. the Clippers Marco Estrada (RHP, 1-0, 4.50 ERA)
RADIO: THE GAME: 1280-AM, 1340-AM, 1400-AM, 1580-AM) With Mike Vander Wood.
ON DECK: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s homestand against Columbus continues through Thursday. The Yankees open a three-game roadset at Buffalo on Friday.