ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Gary Sanchez’s lack of hustle on his game-ending grounder in the Yankees’ 7-6 loss to the Rays on Monday night overshadowed another big sequence from the ninth inning.
Brett Gardner opened the inning against lefty Jose Alvarado with an infield single and Aaron Judge walked, bringing Didi Gregorius to the plate.
Gregorius, 0-for-4 to that point, laid down a sacrifice bunt, called for from the bench, which moved the runners to second and third. But that also took the bat out of the hands of a red-hot Giancarlo Stanton, who was 4-for-4 to that point Monday and had nine hits in his last nine at-bats at Tropicana Field.
With first base open, Rays manager Kevin Cash made the obvious move and intentionally walked Stanton to load the bases. The switch-hitting Aaron Hicks, batting righty against Alvarado, grounded into a 5-2 forceout at the plate before Sanchez’s grounder ended it.
“Just the lefty-lefty matchup there and knowing they’d walk [Stanton], but what’s the tradeoff?” Boone said of his thinking. “Do you like the bases loaded, one out with Hicks from the right side? We did, and we liked getting Alvarado off the mound in a fielding situation as well. We got the situation that we wanted. If Didi doesn’t get it done, they can go to the righty for Stanton.”
With Gregorius coming to the plate, Cash had righty Chih-Wei Hu warming in the bullpen.
“It was a tough call, it was a close call,” Boone said. “But one I felt like, with the matchups, one we’d take.”