- If only for one night, Gary Sanchez put his dismal season behind him and lifted the Yankees to a crucial Game 2 victory in Boston.
BOSTON – Pedro Martinez can certainly relate.
The famed Red Sox pitcher who once suggested he should call the Yankees his daddy has company when it comes to Boston pitchers being tortured by New York in October.
Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez continued his assault of Sox lefthander Davis Price, and is now 7-for-14 in his career against the former Cy Young winner, with home runs accounting for six of his seven hits.
“I’m just looking for something in the zone–a good pitch to hit in the zone, high,” Sanchez said through an interpreter, touching on the Price cutter he hammered for a home run over the Green Monster to lead off the top of the second. “I’ve been fortunate to be patient and find some pitches like that from him, and I’ve been able to hit them well.”
Sanchez later broke the game open in the seventh with a three-run, 479-foot homer off Eduardo Rodriguez as the Yankees mashed their way to a 6-2 victory in Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Red Sox.
He endured an abysmal season that included two stints on the disabled list, a .186 batting average, and a league-leading 18 passed balls in only 89 games.
“I’ve got to tell you there’s nothing like this season,” admitted Sanchez. “It’s been a struggle.”
But both Yankees management and the clubhouse realize that Sanchez’s presence in the lineup remains an integral piece to defeating the Red Sox in the team’s pursuit of a 28th World Series championship.
“Gary has a ton of talent, and he’s a guy we never stopped believing in,” said Yankees centerfielder Brett Gardner. “Gary is one of the most talented players in the league, and even though he had a rough year, he’s the kind of the guy that can get hot with the best of them and put a team on his back.
The Yankees’ offensive barrage also included a home run from Aaron Judge in the top of the first (“I mean, everybody knows that Judge has way more power than me,” Sanchez joked after the game). Judge opened his postgame interview discussing Sanchez’s performance.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” said Judge. “He’s locked in, he’s a big part of our offense, and we’ve known that all year.”
The home run against Price was Sanchez’s lone at-bat against the Sox lefty starter, as Boston manager Alex Cora–whose managing style will never be confused with Grady Little–pulled Price after only 42 pitches.
Sanchez finished the night 2-for-5 with four RBIs, in addition to navigating starter Masahiro Tanaka through a strong five innings of three-hit baseball.
The catcher registered the first multi-home run game by a Yankee in the postseason against the Red Sox since Hideki Matsui hit a pair in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. Sanchez also became the first Yankee catcher to have a multi-home run game in the postseason since Hall of Famer Yogi Berra.
“It’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as him, a legend of baseball,” said the 25-year-old Sanchez. “It’s an honor to me.”
Had the Yankees been able to capitalize with runners in scoring position during the series opener, they would likely be returning to Yankee Stadium with a commanding 2-0 lead in this best-of-five series. Yet the Bombers captured a pivotal Game 2, stealing home field advantage in the process, courtesy of Sanchez, who rewarded the Yankees’ unwavering faith in him with a breakout offensive performance.
“They definitely have had a lot of confidence in me,” said Sanchez. “And I have confidence in myself."