BALTIMORE — Gary Sanchez showed Sunday afternoon why Brian Cashman, despite some of the loud offseason rhetoric, had no intention of ever trading him.
The catcher, coming off a 2018 season that was miserable in just about every respect, hit three of his team's seven home runs and drove in a career-high six runs in the Yankees’ 15-3 destruction of the Orioles in front of 33,102 at Camden Yards. The Yankees scored 29 runs in their three-game sweep, and 26 of them were the result of 14 home runs.
Sanchez had two separate stints on the disabled list last season and hit only .186 with a .697 OPS, 18 homers and 53 RBIs in 89 games. Sunday's outburst gave him six homers and nine RBIs in his first eight games this season.
“We know we have a special talent on our hands,” Aaron Boone said.
"I definitely feel healthier this year,” Sanchez, who had offseason surgery on his left shoulder, said through his translator. “I just feel better overall.''
It was a welcome performance after the preceding night, when Sanchez went 0-for-3 and got picked off third, which helped thwart a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the sixth inning and brought continued questions about his in-game focus.
“Mistakes are going to happen in the game,” Sanchez said. “If you don’t make a mistake, then you don’t play baseball. We’re not going to be perfect. They’re going to happen from time to time. The important thing is to flip the page and focus on today, and I was able to do that today.”
Sanchez, who had never hit three homers in a game at any level, might never have a better chance at hitting four than he did Sunday. Orioles second baseman Hanser Alberto already had surrendered a batting-practice home run by Austin Romine when Sanchez came to the plate in the ninth, but he hit a towering flyout to short leftfield.
“I tried to do what everybody was thinking about,” Sanchez said to laughter. “But I got under it too much.”
Sanchez may have been the star of Sunday’s fireworks display, but he was far from the only one producing them.
Clint Frazier, whose three-run blast in the eighth inning Saturday night gave the Yankees a 6-4 victory, had four hits, including two home runs, and four RBIs. Gleyber Torres, whose three-run homer keyed Thursday’s 8-4 victory, put the Yankees on the board Sunday with a solo homer to centerfield in the second (two batters later, Frazier hit his first homer of the game).
Sanchez’s two-run homer in the third made it 4-0 and the Yankees, who had 15 hits, blew it open in the seventh with a four-run inning that made it 9-0.
The seven homers were the second-most in club history, behind the eight hit June 28, 1939, against the Athletics in Philadelphia and July 31, 2007, against the White Sox in Chicago. Despite all of their injuries, the Yankees have hit 20 home runs in nine games.
“Sometimes it takes the whole 40-man roster,” Frazier said of the Yankees, who have 11 players on the injured list. “That’s why we’ve got 40 guys here that are obviously capable of going up at any time. We have a really good team even when we’ve got guys down [on the injured list]. I think we’re still someone to be worried about whenever we come through town.”
The offensive onslaught mostly overshadowed a terrific outing by Domingo German (2-0), who actually took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Alberto, not yet in his role as pitcher, got the Orioles’ first hit with one out in the sixth.
German allowed two runs and two hits in six innings-plus, and his line looked worse than he pitched because lefty Stephen Tarpley allowed two inherited runners to score in the seventh. Three runs scored in the inning, including one on a passed ball and one on a wild pitch.
It was a far cry from how things went in the season-opening series losses to the Orioles and Tigers at the Stadium, when the Yankees looked nothing like the juggernaut they’re supposed to be.
“After a difficult homestand, to come in here and kind of bust out a little bit with the bats, get some good pitching performances,” Boone said, “that’s nice to see.”