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Gary Sanchez ends 0-for-17 slump with a homer

Yankees designated hitter Gary Sanchez is greeted in

Yankees designated hitter Gary Sanchez is greeted in the dugout after his two-run home run against the Rays during the third inning at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Gary Sanchez finally has some results to show for the work he’s been putting in to hone his swing.

The Yankees slugger ended an 0-for-17 drought in the third inning Wednesday by driving a 3-and-1 changeup from Rays lefty Blake Snell over the leftfield wall for his first home run of the season. Sanchez hadn’t had a hit since a double on Opening Day in Toronto.

It gave the Yankees a three-run lead in their 7-2 victory at the Stadium.

Sanchez had been tinkering with the mechanics of his swing, and sensed he was rushing at the plate. He knew he was missing good pitches to hit. But he also felt good, and that maintained his confidence. “I wasn’t connecting the way I wanted,” he said through an interpreter.

Aaron Boone sensed Sanchez could be close to locking in during Tuesday’s win over the Rays. He hit a rocket in the fifth inning that third baseman Matt Duffy turned into a double play. Sanchez launched a sharp fly ball to left in the seventh, and Boone thought it might have stayed in the park because of the raw weather and the wind.

“I felt like he was getting closer. Even today, the first at-bat [a strikeout that included three foul balls], I thought he was getting close,’’ Boone said. “And I actually said something to him after his first at-bat — ‘You’re getting real close’ — and then he was able to clip one.

“With guys like that, guys you know are going to hit and mash, they get off a little slow, you know that at some point somebody’s going to pay the price for that.”

Sanchez, coming off a season in which he had 33 homers and 90 RBIs, is part of the Yankees’ “Big Three’’ with Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Still, he was hitting .050 (1-for-20) going into that at-bat against Snell.

“Not frustrated, I wouldn’t say that. It’s a long season, right?” he said. “I’ve had some good swings and I’ve felt good. It’s just a matter of making minor adjustments here and there.”

He was working on those adjustments — in the batting cage and by reviewing video — before the game with hitting coach Marcus Thames. Sanchez said the goal was “keep my swing shorter, make good contact on a ball and stay up the middle. That’s what I wanted to do. I felt like I was a little too rushed when I was hitting, and don’t miss your pitch.”

He didn’t miss that Snell changeup. According to Statcast, it came off his bat at 106 mph and traveled 369 feet.

Boone said that at no point in the slump did Sanchez seem vexed. “When you’re a hitter the caliber of Gary,’’ he said, “you understand it’s a matter of time before somebody’s going to pay for some outs.”

New York Sports