As one Yankees rookie, Tyler Austin, showed signs of emerging from a recent slump, another rookie entered Friday having dug himself deeper into one. But that appeared to change.
Gary Sanchez brought impressive overall numbers into Friday night — a .336/.410/.689 slash line with 11 homers and 21 RBIs in 31 games — but had not experienced much success of late. Then he homered over the centerfield fence in the third inning and singled in the fourth. Entering the game, however, he had a .171/.275/.200 slash line with zero homers and zero RBIs in his previous nine games.
“I haven’t seen a difference in him,” Joe Girardi said beforehand. “I think when you look at the difference, maybe the pitches that he was hitting [while hot], he’s just missing right now. And that’s part of the game.”
Girardi said he hasn’t seen the rookie show any signs of frustration while experiencing the first slump of his big-league career.
“His approach has been the same, his preparation has been the same,” he said. “So I’m not the least bit concerned.”
Austin entered Friday night riding a five-game hitting streak in which he was 7-for-16 with two homers, including a walk-off shot with two outs in the ninth inning Thursday night, and two doubles. That streak lifted his batting average from .162 to .245.
It’s been some kind of ride during the last year for the 25-year-old, whom the Yankees actually designated for assignment last September to create space on their 40-man roster. “I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Austin, who went unclaimed on waivers and eventually was sent to Double-A Trenton. “I’m thankful to be with the best organization in baseball.”
n Extra bases
Brett Gardner was not in the starting lineup because the Rays started lefthander Blake Snell. Rob Refsnyder replaced him and doubled home a run in the first inning . . . The Yankees entered Friday night with 41 comeback victories, tied with the Dodgers for second-most in MLB behind the Rangers (42) . . . On May 5, the Yankees fell to 9-17, their low-water mark. Since then, the Yankees are 66-48, Toronto 62-48, Boston 62-50 and Baltimore 60-53.