Joe Girardi was talking about the ups and downs of baseball Friday afternoon when he mentioned offhand that even Gary Sanchez will have a slump one day.
It seems like the inevitable conclusion when you think about what Sanchez has done in only 20 games with the Yankees this year. Certainly, nobody — a rookie, no less — can keep up this pace. It only can be a matter of time before the clock strikes midnight and whatever spell he’s got going is broken.
Not yet, though. Not even close. And now, to add to it, Sanchez has done something that seemed all but impossible just a month ago.
“Guys are excited around here,” Girardi said after his rookie’s latest performance. “We believe.”
In what was supposed to be a throwaway year, Sanchez Friday continued to do what he’s done since he was called up: collect extra-base hits at an otherworldly rate, drive in runs, and energize a fan base that’s had little reason to cheer for too long. This time, he went 3-for-5 with a double, a two-run homer, four RBIs and three runs to lead the Yankees to a 14-4 win over the Orioles.
The Yankees are five games over .500 for the first time this season, and in the hunt for the second wild card only a month after the team seemingly had folded on this season.
“A little bit,” Sanchez said when asked if he was surprised at his own success. “But at the same time, there’s a lot of hard work before every game and that’s giving me a lot of good results right now . . . I’m trying to put a good swing on the ball and good things are happening.”
They’re a little more than good. When Sanchez hit his two-run home run in the fifth — his 10th in a span of 50 paltry at-bats — the Superman theme played as he rounded third base. Fans chanted his name as if he was second coming of Derek Jeter. As far as they know, he might be: He now owns the rookie record for Yankee home runs in a month (all 10). He’s hitting .403 and is 20-for-37 in his last 10 games. He has 31 hits in his first 22 major-league games, and 17 have been for extra bases.
Overshadowed by Sanchez was yet another sign that the Yankees’ youth movement has been a success: Luis Cessa (4-0) , in his second major-league start, collected his second major-league win. He allowed three earned runs with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings. All the runs came on a pair of homers by Manny Machado.
The Yankees scored two runs in the first, six in the second, and two each in the fourth, fifth and seventh.
Machado hit a solo home run in the first but Sanchez’s single in the bottom of the inning set the stage for Mark Teixeira, who hit his sixth home.
The Yankees chased starter Yovani Gallardo with one out in the second, when they batted around and scored six runs, five earned. With one out and two on, Ronald Torreyes hit a fly ball to center that was dropped by Nolan Reimold — in for Adam Jones, who strained his hamstring earlier — to load the bases. The next four batters had run-scoring hits, including Sanchez, whose bloop to right sneaked under Mark Trumbo’s glove and dribbled to the wall for a two-run double. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Teixeira had RBI singles.
Chase Headley hit a two-run homer off Vance Worley in the fourth. Worley also allowed Sanchez’s home run in the fifth. Starlin Castro and Sanchez had three hits and Gardner and Teixeira had three RBIs apiece.
And of course, logic and baseball dictate that things will settle down eventually for Sanchez. But that doesn’t mean that what the Yankees have with their young catcher isn’t real, Girardi said.
“He does a lot of things right, fundamentally that should allow him to have success for a long time,” he said before the game. But as even-keeled as Girardi is, even he couldn’t help but take a moment to marvel after Friday’s latest feat.
“It’s as good as I’ve seen to start a career,” he said. “Guys are excited to watch. [After Sanchez’s home run], Tex, his mouth was open, just saying ‘Wow.’”
These days, that’s the only word left to describe what’s going on at Yankee Stadium.
Sanchez’s last 9 games
8 Home Runs