TAMPA, Fla. — Gary Sanchez provided a reminder that, yes, he can hit ’em a long way, too.
And a reminder of what the 2018 Yankees lineup is capable of.
“Murderer’s Row,” said Tigers lefthander Daniel Norris, who started Wednesday’s 9-6 victory over the Yankees at Steinbrenner Field and faced a lineup that for the first time this year had Aaron Judge in it.
Judge, brought along at a deliberate pace because of arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last November, started at DH and went 0-for-2. Judge, who will start in rightfield Friday, struck out in his first at-bat in the first inning and grounded out sharply to third in the third.
“I don’t feel anything,” Judge said of the shoulder. “Feels great. That’s the kind of progress we wanted.”
Judge, coming off a season in which he was the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up, said he doesn’t feel pressure to duplicate those numbers, including a rookie record 52 homers.
“I’m surrounded by so many good players, I feel like the pressure’s kind of off me,” Judge said. “I just have to go in there, get some quality at-bats and just do my job.”
Judge batted second in a lineup that had Brett Gardner leading off, with Giancarlo Stanton, Sanchez and Greg Bird batting third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
“Running out the boys,” Bird said. “It’s fun, it’s cool. It’ll be fun to really get into this thing and when we’re all out there more regularly and playing a little longer to see [what happens].”
Said Judge: “The other team . . . just can’t let your guard down with the type of players we have.”
Stanton, 0-for-4 his first two games, went 2-for-3, including a double rifled off the wall in right-center in the fourth and a fly out just short of the track in center in the sixth.
“We saw some good things today from those guys,” manager Aaron Boone said.
That was particularly true of Sanchez.
The catcher, overshadowed somewhat by the hype surrounding Stanton and Judge, went 2-for-3 to improve to 3-for-5 in his first two games.
By far the most memorable of those at-bats came in the first inning Wednesday when Sanchez annihilated the first pitch he saw from Norris, which came in at 88 mph, and lined it over the scoreboard for a two-run homer to make it 2-0.
“Looked like he was back in the Derby kicking my butt,” Stanton said with a smile.
Sanchez, as the No. 8 seed, upset Stanton in the first round of last season’s Home Run Derby in Miami.
The blast elicited high-fives and head shakes on the top step of the Yankees dugout, similar to those that accompanied many of Judge’s homers a season ago.
“It’s just one of those, ‘ooh,’ right away,” Boone said. “It’s like a line drive to left-center that, oh by the way, just went over the scoreboard. It’s fun to watch him go up there and hit. It feels like he’s on the hunt; he’s up there looking to do damage.”
The 24-year-old Norris could only smile afterward.
“I didn’t look at it . . . it was really loud, I figured it was gone,” Norris said. “A first-pitch ambush heater that got hit really far.”
Norris figures not to be the last pitcher with such a lament this season against the Yankees.
“It’s just fun,” Judge said. “We have a fun team, good guys to be around. I’m just excited for Opening Day.”