DETROIT — The law of averages demands that Gary Sanchez will cool off eventually. It just didn’t happen Wednesday night.
The red-hot catcher homered in his first at-bat, jump-starting another big game by the Yankees’ offense in a 10-2 victory over the Tigers at Comerica Park.
Sanchez, who homered twice in Tuesday night’s 13-4 rout of Detroit, made it 1-0 in the first with a two-out homer. It was his 26th home run, his fifth in his last six games and ninth in his last 14. He added a two-run single in a five-run third off Jordan Zimmermann, giving Sanchez 23 RBIs in his last 14 games.
“What he’s doing right now, he’s on a tear, he’s on fire,” said Didi Gregorius, who hit one of the Yankees’ three homers. “It’s awesome.”
The early 6-0 lead was more than enough for 23-year-old ace Luis Severino, who cruised over 6 2/3 innings. Severino (11-5, 3.10) allowed one run and six hits to earn his sixth victory in seven decisions since the All-Star break, a stretch in which he has a 2.16 ERA. He walked one and struck out eight.
Severino, who has allowed one earned run or none in 14 of his starts this season, had a shutout until the sixth, when Ian Kinsler led off with his 13th homer, making it 8-1.
“It was feeling pretty good in the bullpen,” Severino said of his darting slider, typically his strikeout pitch. “Sometimes I try to overthrow it. That’s why it sometimes gets to the middle of the plate, but I think it was good.”
Zimmermann (7-11, 6.11) allowed seven runs and nine hits in five innings. Although he has struggled all season, he did throw seven shutout innings against the Yankees on Aug. 2.
The Yankees (68-57) had 14 hits, four by Ronald Torreyes, and also received a home run by Chase Headley. They remained 4½ games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox, who beat Corey Kluber and the Indians.
The Yankees went 5-for-11 with runners in scoring position, while the Tigers (54-71) were 0-for-10.
In the first, after Zimmermann retired Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks on hard-hit balls, Sanchez hit one that no fielder had a shot at, driving a hanging, 1-and-2 slider to left.
Severino struck out two in a perfect, 11-pitch bottom half and had little trouble until the sixth. Zimmermann set down the Yankees in order in the second inning but they got to him again in the third, putting the game out of reach.
Jacoby Ellsbury and Torreyes began the inning with consecutive singles, and they advanced to second and third on Gardner’s long flyout to center. Aaron Hicks walked to load the bases for Sanchez, who flared a broken-bat, two-run single to left-center to make it 3-0. Aaron Judge, batting cleanup for the second straight game, launched a full-count fastball to centerfield for a double that made it 4-0. Gregorius followed by stinging a single up the middle for a 5-0 lead, and Judge came in on Headley’s sacrifice fly to make it 6-0.
Torreyes has gone 10-for-26 on this trip and raised his average to .299. He has taken advantage of the playing time presented when regular second baseman Starlin Castro went to the disabled list with a hamstring strain. That will end soon because Castro is due back, perhaps within the next week or two.
“I’m going to feel happy to have him back because he’s a big part of our team,” Torreyes said through his translator. “I’ll slide back into the utility role, playing all the positions, wherever they need me. But I’ll be happy to have him back.”