BALTIMORE — On a day when Gary Sanchez added another award to an ever-increasing collection, the rookie faced far more questions about a topic he hadn’t yet dealt with since his promotion a month ago: his first slump.
Sanchez, named the American League Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month — the first Yankees catcher in franchise history to be honored as the AL Player of the Month, an award that dates to 1974 — entered Saturday night’s game in a 3-for-17 slide before striking out against Kevin Gausman in the first inning. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Yankees’ 2-0 loss.
That, of course, is hardly something that should be panic-inducing for anyone, notable only in that the first four games of this trip showed the 23-year-old is human.
Since becoming an everyday player Aug. 3, Sanchez had a .425/.489/.938 slash line, 11 homers and 21 RBIs in 21 games entering this road trip, which began Monday in Kansas City. He won back-to-back Player of the Week honors the second and third weeks of August.
“It’s part of baseball,” Sanchez, who started at DH Saturday night, said through his translator before the game. “You go through ups and downs. Nobody’s going to be able to hit 1.000. You make adjustments and you go from there.”
Sanchez said pitchers have started attacking him differently in the last week.
“I would say the type of pitches and the location of the pitches,” he said. “Now it’s up to me to make adjustments.”
Needless to say, Joe Girardi is not concerned about what amounts to a mini-slump, the kind every player experiences at some point, and typically for far longer stretches.
“I think he’s gotten out of his zone a little bit,” Girardi said. “Maybe he’s trying to do a little too much, [was] too excited the way things were going. I think it’s just kind of what hitters go through. You can’t remain that hot the whole year. It’s just not going to happen.’’
In becoming the first player to win both AL Player and Rookie of the Month since Jose Abreu of the White Sox did it in July 2014, Sanchez went 37-for-95 (.389) with 11 homers, 21 RBIs, nine doubles and 20 runs. According to Elias, Sanchez hit his first 11 home runs more quickly than any other player in MLB history.
“It feels great to win the award, but the reality is the focus is to win games right now,” Sanchez said. “We want to keep winning series. This is a new month now.”