Gary Sanchez’ bat has broken its silence.
Sanchez arrived at Wednesday night’s series finale against the Astros in a quiet, awful slump — five games without a hit. By the time he came to bat in the fifth inning with the Yankees down a run and the bases loaded, the skid stood at 0-for-19. Sanchez ended it there though. He poked a seeing-eye single through an over-shifted defense and into rightfield to score two runs and put the Yankees up for good in what became a 5-3 win at the Stadium.
Manager Aaron Boone called the hit, on a 1-and-2 sinker from Dallas Keuchel, “huge.”
“Any time you get a hit, you’re going to feel good,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “The most important thing is that I was able to get the hit and put the team ahead. . . . That pitch was a sinker outside and I just threw the bat at it, so I got lucky there. To me it was just putting the ball in play. That’s what I was thinking.”
Maybe the soft shot wasn’t exactly the image conjured by the words “breaking out,” but Sanchez’ drought had his average down to an unseemly .207. It would have fallen farther if he’d pulled the ball as the shifted defense played him to do.
“It was obvious. I don’t hit a lot of ground balls to second base,” Sanchez said. “So when there’s a shift, it works against me. . . . . I don’t get many of those. Usually when I go to that side of the park, it’s a fly ball.”
The hitting travails of Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton have provided enough cover to keep Sanchez’ out of the headlines. Gregorius looked like an MVP candidate in the month of April, but has followed with terrible May. Stanton, the big offseason acquisition and 2017 NL MVP, hasn’t gotten on a roll and ended his own 0-for-19 skid on Tuesday.
Asked about why he hasn’t been getting good results, Sanchez replied “it’s hard to say because in baseball you always go through a hot streak and then a cold streak.”
“I am not going through a good streak now, but that’s baseball and there’s a lot of games to be played,” he added.
Boone cites that Sanchez has been productive — 12 homers and now 35 RBIs — despite the low average and that he is due for a hot streak.
“In the long run, he’s not going to hit down there,” Boone said. “He’ll get it going and take off at some point. He just hasn’t had the long streak where he’s getting multiple hits all the time which — for a guy of his caliber and what his swing will lend itself to — those streaks will come for him.”