Breaking News

Gary Sanchez Pops Out of a Funk and Carries the Yankees

Category: Other Sports,Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Gary Sanchez had one of his intermittent awakenings from a season-long slumber on Tuesday night, suddenly looking like a catcher worth doubling and tripling down on, as General Manager Brian Cashman put it last week.

Sanchez homered, singled and drove in four runs in the Yankees’ 9-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays and he even helped prevent a run when he gathered a relay throw from Neil Walker and blocked Ji-Man Choi from reaching the plate.

Whether it is a sign that Sanchez is emerging from a funk or just another tease — like his upper-deck home run two weeks ago at Minnesota — will only be revealed in time.

But the Yankees were content with his contributions on Tuesday, which assured that they would remain at least one and a half games ahead of the Oakland Athletics, who played later Tuesday night in Seattle, for home-field advantage in the wild-card game.

The runaway victory, fueled by a seven-run third inning that included Sanchez’s three-run homer, did not signal a continued improvement from Luis Severino, the erstwhile ace who was trying to recapture his early season form in what will be his last true audition for a start in the wild-card game.

Severino, despite the generous support from his offense, had to grind his way through the night before he was lifted after Brandon Lowe’s leadoff double in the sixth. All four hits he allowed were doubles, and he walked three, hit a batter and struck out seven.

Manager Aaron Boone said on Monday that the Yankees were not close to deciding who would start against the Athletics — either J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka or Severino — and there figures to be many considerations, including where the game is played.

But it had to be disconcerting for the Yankees to see Severino struggle with the command of his fastball. Even though he peppered the zone with the pitch and it reached 98 miles per hour, Severino rarely hit Sanchez’s glove. While Sanchez repeatedly set up at the bottom of the strike zone, Severino regularly delivered it high — often enough to the opposite side of the plate.

Severino struck out Mallex Smith to leave the bases loaded in the second, but after being gifted a comfortable lead he immediately got himself into trouble. He loaded the bases with none out before Brandon Lowe ripped a double into the right-center gap that scored two runs.

But the Tampa third base coach Matt Quatraro short-circuited the inning by sending Choi — the lumbering former Yankee — who was thrown out easily on Walker’s one-hop relay throw from Aaron Judge. While it was a routine play, it was not markedly more difficult than the one Sanchez memorably could not make against Houston in the American League Championship Series last year.

And when Domingo German’s ninth-inning pitch to Adam Moore ticked off the glove of Sanchez after a third strike, he chased it down and fired to first in time for the final out of the game.

Sanchez’s encouraging performance came one night after he allowed two passed balls, increasing his major-league leading total to 17 — despite a pair of lengthy stints on the disabled list — and hours after Boone had acknowledged that Sanchez’s confidence was suffering.

“When you don’t get results, I feel like he has gone out there and chased results a little bit — ‘I’m gonna get a hit, I’m gonna make it happen’ — instead of just letting the game come to you,” Boone said.

He added: “Hitting, even if you’re great, can be a little fickle and is very much a mental game at times.”

The Yankees’ third-inning outburst had an unlikely beginning — a home run from Adeiny Hechavarria, whose glove is far better than his bat. As it happened, Hechavarria’s home run came just after he had committed a rare error, pulling Luke Voit off the bag with an errant throw.

Hechavarria was in the lineup because Gleyber Torres was a late scratch with tightness in his right hip — the same injury that landed him on the disabled list in July. Also out of the lineup were center fielder Aaron Hicks (hamstring) and shortstop Didi Gregorius (wrist), who will be examined Wednesday to determine when he might be able to return.

Brett Gardner, who replaced Hicks in the lineup, followed Hechavarria’s home run with a triple inside the first-base bag and after Andrew McCutchen walked, Judge blistered a line drive that pitcher Jacob Faria caught out of self-preservation.

Andrew Kittredge relieved him and was greeted by Voit’s double. After Stanton was intentionally walked, Jalen Beeks entered and walked Walker on four pitches to force in a run. Miguel Andujar scored Voit on a fly ball to right field, which brought Sanchez to the plate with two out.

The patient approach that Boone had been hoping for arrived — and when Beeks delivered a 3-1 fastball — so too did the results, a drive into the left-field seats, that the Yankees’ catcher has spent much of the season chasing.


Source link

No comments