MINNEAPOLIS — Gary Sanchez knows what it is like to be counted out. The Yankees catcher was benched last season. He sat out five of the Bombers’ seven playoff games. After being given a vote of confidence and second chance in spring training, he had already lost his starting job to back-up Kyle Higashioka for the second time and two years.
Sanchez also knows what it’s like to climb and claw his way back.
Tuesday night, he helped the staggering Yankees do the same. Sanchez’s two hits, including a ninth-inning, two-run homer that capped an 8-4 win over the Twins at Target Field.
The Yankees (32-29) snapped their four-game losing streak and won just their fourth game in the last 14 games.The Twins (24-36) committed four errors as they fumbled away an early lead in the loss.
The win gave the Yankees a little room to breathe after a weekend of being suffocated by the Red Sox.
“Obviously we haven’t been playing our best baseball this last week, week and a half and y, good thing the off day yesterday came at a really good time, to just kind of step away for a minute, reboot and reevaluate,” Yankees veteran Brett Gardner said. “I thought the guys showed up today prepared and ready and had a pretty good game.”
And Sanchez’s night gives them hope for an offense that has been ugly.
Since May 27, Sanchez has been hitting .353/.436/.618 with two home runs, three doubles and six RBI.
“I’ve said for the last three years, I think Gary is one of the most talented right-handed hitters in the game. And I know that, you know, last year, obviously, that goes away. And the results early on this year, may not be exactly what he’s looking for. But he’s very, very, very talented on both sides of the ball,” Gardner said. “He’s obviously a big part of a big part of our team. And he’s a guy that when he gets going, and when he’s right at the plate he can carry your team. We’ve seen it before in the past, and I see no reason to believe that he can’t continue to do that moving forward.”
Something will have to carry these Yankees.
Miguel Andujar had his fourth homer in the last seven games — a 449-foot bomb — and drew his first walk of the season. Aside from that, the Yankees had to scrape and take advantage of the miserable Twins mistakes Tuesday night.
They had the bases loaded with one out in three straight innings with their sluggers Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton coming to the plate and they scored on a walk, a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly and fielder’s choice.
They went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position, a common refrain for these Bombers. The Yankees with runners in scoring position have been brutal all year. Their .229 batting average in those spots is only better than Cleveland in the American League. They were the worst in the majors with just 118 RBI in 397 at-bats and only better than the Mets in baseball with 137 runs scored.
This team isn’t built to play small ball. The roster was constructed with the idea that they could crush pitching and out-homer other teams.
So, signs that Sanchez is turning it on could be signs of life for the Yankees. Aaron Boone said he’s been happy with Sanchez’s at-bats and his work behind the plate. With ace Gerrit Cole pitching on Wednesday, however, Boone made sure to add he still has a lot of confidence in Higashioka.
But for Sanchez, who has climbed his way back into the conversation, he knows the long game is in his favor. The Yankees never forgot the power he flashed in 2017 and 2019, that’s why they gave him a second chance last year.
It’s why he got the chance to help them climb back into it Tuesday night.
“There’s so many things you think about when you’re struggling hitting and things are not working out. But at the same time you understand that the only way I was to continue to work,” Sanchez said. “And things have been working out.”