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Deivi Garcia could be an answer for Yankees' open rotation slot

Yankees starting pitcher Deivi Garcia delivers against the

Yankees starting pitcher Deivi Garcia delivers against the New York Mets during the second inning of Game 2 in a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Deivi Garcia didn’t get the win in Game 2 of the Yankees’ doubleheader sweep of the Mets at the Stadium on Sunday, but he might be considered for a spot in the starting rotation.

Garcia began a 5-2 win punctuated by Gary Sanchez’ pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth with six innings of sensational pitching. He took a no-hitter into the fourth and allowed one run, which was unearned, four hits and no walks. He struck out six, including five in his first pass through the Mets’ order.

“You could tell his fastball was playing — whether he’s 89, 91, 93 mph, it just stays on that plane and guys don’t get real good swings at it. He was in the strike zone a ton tonight,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously, you saw the good curveball that he had going and I thought he did a good job of mixing in his changeup and a slider just enough .  . . It was fun to watch him again go through a really good lineup and have the weapons to do it.”

The 5-9 Garcia, the youngest pitcher in MLB at 21 years and 103 days, said that while training at the team’s alternate site, he was “telling myself that I was pitching in the Bronx although it was far away and just wanted to do that [to] make it feel that I was in an actual game. I think it worked out very well for me and I think that’s one of the keys why I was so sharp tonight.”

Garcia was returned to the alternate site after the game. The Yankees will need someone to pitch Friday in Baltimore, so he could be back.

Said Boone, “One of the things that’s really stood out about him is the confidence he has in himself. When you watch him out there, he is very relaxed, he’s very at ease. That has come through whether he’s pitching at spring training in front of a big fan base or he’s pitching in summer camp. His demeanor doesn’t really change much whether he’s pitching really well or scuffling.”

Sanchez busts out

When Sanchez hit home runs in three consecutive games earlier this month, it appeared he might be shaking off a horrid start in which he batted .093 in his first 14 games. But his bat went back to sleep — until Sunday.

Sanchez was 0-for-4 as the Yankees beat the Mets, 8-7, in eight innings in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader. That dropped his batting average to .123  … but he contributed a pinch-hit grand slam in the eighth inning that gave the Yankees a 5-2 win. The 453-foot drive went into the bleachers above the Mets' bullpen.

Boone said he’s sure Sanchez’ slump has bothered the catcher but added that he’s not showing it.

“He’s human, so any time you struggle in this game and you care, it gets to you a little bit,” Boone said. “I have felt, honestly, this entire time that his frame of mind is actually pretty good … He works really hard at hitting and does a lot of hitting — his focus on that has been good. I haven't seen frustration outwardly at all. But I also understand that we're human. I've been in those positions to where it's damn hard and you're struggling. So I'm sure that that's part of it, but I haven't seen any outward frustration.”

Hicks leaves with calf cramps

After hitting the tying two-run homer to cap a five-run seventh inning in Game 1, Aaron Hicks experienced cramping in both calf muscles and was removed for a pinch runner in the fifth inning of Game 2 after drawing a walk. Hicks felt some discomfort after fouling off a pitch and consulted with Boone and the training staff at the plate before finishing the at-bat. 

Extra bases

Lefthander Zack Britton, on the injured list since Aug. 20 with a left hamstring strain, threw a bullpen session Sunday. Boone said “we’re looking forward to him possibly getting activated this week.” … Giancarlo Stanton, on the IL since Aug. 9 with a left hamstring strain, was described by Boone as “not all the way out of the woods yet [with] the injury.” He has been running “at 75-80%,” the manager said … Catcher Kyle Higashioka, out since Aug. 5 with an oblique strain, is expected to come off the IL in the next few days … The right elbow bone chips that sidelined third baseman Gio Urshela on Friday and Saturday are not anticipated to be an issue … The Yankees are 1-6 against the AL East-leading Rays, whom they trail by 3 1/2 games, and cannot catch them in the three-game series that begins Monday at the Stadium.  Gerrit Cole will pitch the first game, followed by Masahiro Tanaka and Jordan Montgomery. J.A. Happ is slated to pitch Thursday's rescheduled game against the Mets at Citi Field … Brooks Kriskie was optioned after the first game and righthander Albert Abreu was added to the roster for the second contest.

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