Wouldn’t it be nice if Gary Sanchez started hitting again with the playoffs looming for the Yankees?
The struggling catcher gave his club some hope during Tuesday night’s 9-2 rout of the Rays, going 2-for-4 with four RBI and a home run, his first since September 10 and only his second since returning from a month-plus stint on the disabled list. The four RBI tied a season-high from April 11.
Though he’s still hitting below .190, Sanchez’s breakout night was a good sign, proving he remains a power threat for the Yankees. Dropped to seventh in the order behind Neil Walker and Miguel Andujar, who also homered for his 26th of the season, Sanchez got his pitches to hit and didn’t miss them. He also worked a walk in the seventh inning.
“There’s no question I’m sure he’s down a little bit, but I haven’t sensed frustration or any demeanor behind the scenes that anything is carrying over,” manager Aaron Boone told reporters of Sanchez. “I think he understands when he’s going well how important his bat is to our lineup and I don’t think that’s wavered.”
Perhaps equally encouraging was Sanchez’s performance behind the plate working with Luis Severino, a battery that has had some hiccups this season. In a September 5 start against Oakland, the Yankees’ upcoming wild card opponent, Severino gave up six runs on six hits and was not on the same page with Sanchez.
But there were no issues on Tuesday, with Sanchez helping Severino through five strong innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits and struck out seven, and in his last three starts now has shown he may be moving past whatever was plaguing him through some awful starts in July and August.
“I think there’s no question (Severino) is feeling much more comfortable. He’s much more consistent,” Boone said. “I think he is getting a little bit of that swagger back and pitching with more confidence.”
It would be the exact right time for both Sanchez and Severino to figure things out.
With Didi Gregorius out due to torn cartilage in his wrist and Gleyber Torres resting a tight hip and groin, the Yankees were thin in the middle of the infield Tuesday, but replacements Adeiny Hechavarria and Walker both played key parts in the victory.
Hechavarria, who has shown some surprising pop since coming over to the Yankees, homered to start off a seven-run third inning. It was his second home run in 22 games for the Bombers after he had hit just four in 76 games split between the Rays and Pirates before the trade.
Walker was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Should Gregorius not be healthy before the end of the season, though the Yankees are optimistic he will be, both Hechavarria and Walker are proving more than capable as fill-ins.