Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez had an awful year. He endured multiple stints on the DL, hit .186/.291/.406, and played unsustainably bad defense behind the plate. If the Yankees hadn’t made the playoffs we might be settling into conversations about whether the former rookie sensation still has a place on the team. Those conversations may yet be coming, but the Yankees are in the playoffs and Sanchez is, for today at least, a hero.
Two big-ass dingers. That’s what Sanchez gave the Yankees in their Game 2 victory over the Red Sox last night, tying the series at 1-1 and flipping home-field advantage in the process. The first bomb put the Yanks up 2-0 in the first inning, and the second, a three-run shot in the seventh, put the game away. It was that second shot, which traveled 479 feet and cleared the farthest edge of the Green Monster, that felt like a flashback to Sanchez’s recent glory days.
The power is always there. The only number that stands out positively from Sanchez’s ghastly regular season box score is the 18 homers he clubbed in 323 at-bats. It’s that power, and the fact that he’s historically hit David Price well, that led Yankees manager Aaron Boone to bet on his struggling catcher and start in him Game 2. It’s a bet that paid off as well as it could have.
One two-homer game doesn’t break a season-long slump, but these things can turn quickly, and the impact is so much greater when a breakout happens in the middle of a postseason run. The Red Sox are very good and still the favorites to win this series, but a lineup with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and a fully operational Gary Sanchez isn’t one any team wants to face.