Hold the presses! Gary Sanchez the New York Yankees phenom rookie catcher did not drive the ball out of the yard Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. But the AL Player of the Week went 2-for-4 with a double in the Yankees 5-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Not hitting a home run could be considered a bad day for Sanchez. He nodded his head and said through a translator in the Yankees clubhouse, “No,” when asked if there was disappointment in getting two hits and not being able to get his 12th home run.
The hesitant no response showed the disappointment and Sanchez, like a little kid, bowed his head down and had a smile. Since his arrival a few weeks ago, the Yankees offense has improved and the team has responded to put them in a chase for the second American League wild card spot.
But, it just can’t be Sanchez doing the job down the stretch. The 23-year old catcher was put in the designated hitter role Sunday afternoon and Brian McCann went back behind the plate. The Yankees banged out 27 runs in the first two games against the Orioles but it was a different situation Sunday.
And when Sanchez does not hit a home run ball, even with this new and energized Yankees team, it seems they need more to get the win and keep pace in the all of a sudden wild card chase that was thought to be impossible a few weeks ago.
Orioles starter Kevin Gausman won his third straight start and was the culprit that prevented the Yankees from getting the three-game sweep. He tossed 7.0 innings, on seven hits and had nine strikeouts.
Oh, and Sanchez was not one of the strikeout victims of Gausman, 6-10. who had a fastball and breaking ball working to perfection.
“This kid has instincts and makes adjustments,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Sanchez. His 34 hits in Yankees franchise history are the second highest total in the first 24 games for a player.
So there is something special about a youngster who is making history in the Bronx. More importantly, Sanchez has become vital to the Yankees hopes of making this improbable postseason run to October.
The adjustment is becoming an all-around hitter. Sanchez doubled in his last at bat in the seventh inning. A single to right-center field in the fourth inning was hit hard. and when Sanchez fails to get on base the contact is not soft coming off his bat.
After hitting home runs the past three games, Sanchez is at .404 in 22 games. You can’t expect the youngster to hit a ball out of the yard with every at bat, But the Yankees, and from their expressions on the bench, are all looking for that home run ball off his bat.
So the Orioles, fighting for a division title in the Al East with Boston and Toronto, stopped the Yankees from getting the sweep. Because Gary Sanchez failed to hit a home run and wasn’t a run producer, the Yankees supposedly lost a game that would have got them closer in their wild card quest.
Not exactly, and as Girardi said, “If someone says you’re going to win a series against Baltimore, I think you’re going to be pretty positive. But when you win the first two sometimes guys can get down a little bit.”
The Yankees were not down Sunday afternoon as they packed their bags for another trip to Kansas City and for three games at Baltimore. They were not down that their new home run sensation, Sanchez, failed to hit the long ball.
Gausman had that game a pitcher looks for during a long season.
“Every game you want to win,” said Aaron Hicks. “Today we did not enough opportunities” Hicks has been one of the Yankees with that spark and a renewal at the plate since the arrival of Sanchez.
His 1-for-4 day included a hit off Gausman. The single to right in the first inning increased an average in his last six starts to .315, also with four home runs and nine RBI.
So this is not just Sanchez. But the Yankees know, and are aware that the youngster gets things going. Except this day, the Orioles got a good start from one of their starters and the Yankees could not capitalize when Sanchez got on base.
“Baseball is like this,” said Adam Warren who relieved an efficient CC Sabathia who got the loss after 6.2 innings. “A tough loss and we are going to try and get on another winning streak.”
And the Yankees hope that Gary Sanchez gets another home run streak going in the next week as the September stretch approaches.