Poll: Did the Yanks wait too long to call up Gary Sanchez?

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Over the last three weeks, rookie catcher Gary Sanchez has been on a tear like nothing we’ve seen before. He’s hitting .398/.465/.864 (249 wRC+) with eleven home runs in 23 games this season, including that random 0-for-4 against Chris Sale in May. Sanchez reached eleven home runs faster than any other player in history. He needed only 22 games to hit that many.

The Yankees are scoring more runs right now than they have at any other point this season, and they continue to linger in the wildcard race, thanks largely to Sanchez. It’s amazing to think the team traded away their best hitter at the deadline (Carlos Beltran) and actually improved their offense, but it’s happened and it’s glorious. The Yankees are a million times more entertaining right now than they were earlier this year.

Sanchez, as you surely remember, competed for the backup catcher’s job in Spring Training, but he lost out to Austin Romine. Romine had a strong camp while Sanchez went 2-for-22 (.091) and looked like he was trying to hit a five-home run every time he stepped to the plate. That Sanchez had options remaining while Romine couldn’t be sent to the minors only made it easier for the Yankees to keep the “veteran” around.

Given his immense production, it’s only natural to wonder whether the Yankees should have called Sanchez up sooner, either by giving him the backup job on Opening Day or calling him up a few weeks into the season. Remember, Sanchez needed to spend 35 days in the minors to delay free agency, and boy oh boy are the Yankees glad they did that right now. Let’s build a case for both sides of this argument, calling him up sooner and later.

The Case For Calling Him Up Sooner

Let’s start with the obvious: calling Sanchez up sooner means getting more plate appearances out of him, which improves the offense. The bat has never really been a question here. No one expected him to hit like this right away, but this is a full-time catcher who hit .286/.342/.478 in 106 career Triple-A games. Sanchez can mash and it’s been obvious for a while.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

The Yankees struggled to score runs for much of the season, mostly because their middle of the order veterans (Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez) didn’t produce. Once the team decided to pull the plug on A-Rod, they gave his at-bats to Aaron Hicks and Rob Refsnyder, which didn’t do much better. All of those at-bats could have instead gone to Sanchez. Imagine Sanchez and Carlos Beltran in the same lineup.

Right now the Yankees are 3.5 games out of a postseason spot and the difference between, say, 100 extra plate appearances of Sanchez and 100 plate appearances of the A-Rod/Hicks/Refsnyder trio could be as much as a win. Maybe two. Simply put, calling Sanchez up sooner would have likely given the Yankees a better chance to make the postseason. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that at all.

The Case For Calling Him Up When They Did

Player development is not linear. Sanchez played 71 Triple-A this season — he would have played more had he not missed a few weeks with a thumb fracture caused by a foul tip — and those games were a learning experience. He worked with the coaches and faced experienced pitchers every single day. All those games had developmental value.

Moreso than any other position, I think catchers can learn a lot just by sitting on the bench as a big league backup. They may not get many at-bats, but they can still sit in on scouting report meetings, catch bullpens, and do all of that stuff. Catching is hard, man. There’s so much prep work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s incredible how much these guys prepare for each game.

Sanchez could have learned a lot backing up Brian McCann earlier this season. That said, given his work in progress defense, being in Triple-A allowed him to play everyday while still putting in all that behind the scenes work. Defensive and offensive development are not mutual exclusive, especially not with catchers. There’s a reason so many catchers are late-bloomers offensively. They have to get comfortable behind the plate first, and those extra few weeks in Triple-A allowed Sanchez to do that.

* * *

I don’t think there’s any way we could reasonably say Sanchez would have performed exactly like he is right now had the Yankees called him up in, say, May. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have been able to help the offense, however. This question is ripe for a poll, so let’s get to it.

Did the Yankees wait too long to call up Sanchez?

Comeback falls short, Yankees drop opener 8-5 to Royals

The march back into the wildcard race has hit a speed bump. The Yankees dropped their second straight winnable game Monday night, this one 8-5 to the Royals. It’s not good when the last guys on your roster are deciding the most important games of the season.

(Ed Zurga/Getty)
(Ed Zurga/Getty)

There Are No Runs, Only Zuul
Can the Yankees go back to playing the Orioles again? They scored 27 runs Friday and Saturday, then scored one run in the next 16 innings. Dillon Gee, who went into Monday’s game with a 5.62 ERA (5.14 FIP) as a starter this season, held the Yankees to one stupid little run in six innings. Back-to-back two-out doubles by Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro created that run in the fourth inning. Nothing too exciting.

All told, the Yankees put five runners on base in six innings against Gee, and all five came with two outs. The Yankees went 0-for-12 with zero or one out against Gee. Tough to score when your rally starts with two outs. They did get a leadoff single against reliever Brian Flynn in the seventh inning, but the runner (Brian McCann) never advanced. The next three batters made quick outs. So it goes.

So Perfectly Pineda
This start had a little bit of everything from Michael Pineda. Backbreaking two-out hits with two strikes? Yup. The Royals built their three-run first inning with five singles, including three with two strikes and three with two outs. Utter dominance? Of course. Pineda retired 15 straight batters from the second through sixth innings. Left in too long? Yes, though that’s a Joe Girardi thing.

Anyway, Pineda finished the night with five runs allowed on seven hits in six innings plus two batters. He struck out eight and walked none, so don’t worry, his single-game FIP is totally cool. We’ve seen enough of Pineda to know this is who he is. He’s incredibly frustrating with a knack for being unable to pitch out of jams, yet he’ll show you just enough flashes of brilliance to keep you interested. Maybe he’ll get better one day. Probably not.

(Ed Zurga/Getty)
(Ed Zurga/Getty)

Too Little, Too Late
For the second time in as many days, the last-ish guy in the bullpen allowed a game to be put out of reach. Pineda allowed back-to-back singles to start the seventh, then was replaced by Blake Parker with the Royals up 3-1. Parker gave up a three-run home run to Alcides friggin’ Escobar to give Kansas City a 6-1 lead. Three more singles and a walk stretched the Royals’ lead to 8-1.

Why is the last guy in the bullpen pitching with a two-run deficit? Beats me. Adam Warren pitched both Saturday and Sunday, but Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances have each pitched twice in the last seven days. Couldn’t use Clippard there to keep the game close? Seems like the smart thing to do given the standings and the team’s proximity to the second wildcard spot, but nope. Chances are Clippard and Betances will pitch no matter what Tuesday because they need the work.

Naturally, the Yankees rallied in the eight and ninth innings to make things interesting, but they came up just short. They actually brought the tying run to the plate. Twice! A catcher’s inference (Jacoby Ellsbury, of course), a walk (Aaron Hicks), and a hit-by-pitch (Gary Sanchez) loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth. The Royals gifted the Yankees a rally. Gregorius drove in two with a double, then Castro (sac fly) and Chase Headley (infield single) plated two more.

Headley’s single cut the deficit to 8-5 and put the tying run on deck. Pinch-hitter Brett Gardner, who replaced Aaron Judge, drew a four-pitch walk. Mark Teixeira, who pinch-hit for Tyler Austin, then had a chance to tie the game with one swing. He instead swung at ball four from Kelvin Herrera (via Brooks Baseball) …

Mark Teixeira strike zone plot

… and grounded out to second to end the inning. The Yankees again brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth with back-to-back two outs singles by Sanchez and Gregorius, but Castro struck out on a pitch in the dirt. Non-competitive at-bat. Alas. At least the O’Neill Theory is in effect for Tuesday. Would have been cool to see a good reliever in that seventh inning instead of a guy picked up off the scrap heap a few weeks ago.

Girardi was ejected during that eighth inning rally for arguing balls and strikes. He was chirping at home plate umpire Brian O’Nora pretty much all game, then after the score got out of hand, he let off some steam. It was a pretty tame tirade, all things considered. No hat throwing, no dirt kicking, nothing like that. But Girardi did fire up the offense that inning. (Nope.)

Gregorius had three hits and Austin busted out of his slump with two. Judge went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and still looks way too passive at the plate. Like he’s waiting for the first pitch every single time. Sanchez, Castro, McCann, and Headley had hits as well. Ellsbury, Hicks, and Gardner drew the walks. The Yankees went 3-for-8 (.375) with runners in scoring position.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, then MLB.com for the video highlights, then ESPN for the updated standings, then RAB for our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the ol’ win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Tuesday night, in the middle game of this three-game series. Masahiro Tanaka and Edinson Volquez are the scheduled starter for that one, assuming the rain holds off.

DotF: Bichette homers twice in Trenton’s win

The video above is RHP Jonathan Holder striking out eleven straight batters as part of his four-inning save yesterday. J.J. Cooper wrote about Holder’s incredible performance. Here are the day’s notes:

Triple-A Scranton (6-2 loss to Rochester)

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 K
  • RF Cesar Puello: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R — 22-for-58 (.379) in 16 games since being sent down
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 2.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 2/4 GB/FB — 47 of 91 pitches were strikes (52%) … he has a 5.09 ERA in 122.1 career Triple-A innings
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 24 of 43 pitches were strikes (56%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.2 IP, zeroes, 5 K — 19 of 26 pitches were strikes (73%) … 44/20 K/BB in 29.1 innings
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — 15 of 23 pitches were strikes (52%)

[Read more…]

Game 130: Another Important Series


The Yankees are halfway through this crucial 12-game stretch against fellow wildcard contenders. They took two of three from both the Mariners and Orioles, yet it feels like they could have done more. Either way, winning those series was pretty much the bare minimum, and that is again the case this week. The Yankees have to at least win this series against the Royals to stay in the race. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Brian McCann
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. 1B Tyler Austin
    RHP Michael Pineda

The internet tells me it is warm and sticky in Kansas City, and there is also some rain in the forecast later tonight. Shouldn’t be anything that interrupts the game unless they play extra innings. Tonight’s game will begin at 8:15pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Awards Note: Once again, Sanchez is your AL Player of the Week. He is the first rookie in history to win it back-to-back weeks. Wild. He’s also the first AL player to win it back-to-back weeks since Albert Belle in 1998. Sanchez having Belle’s career sure would be fun, minus all the crazy guy stuff.

8/29 to 8/31 Series Preview: Kansas City Royals


This rather huge 12-game stretch continues this week with three games in Kansas City. The Yankees took two of three from both the Mariners and Orioles last week, two teams they are trying to catch in the wildcard race. The Royals are in that mix as well. The Yankees and Royals played four games in Yankee Stadium back in May. New York won three.

What Have They Done Lately?

Good gravy are the Royals hot. They walloped the Red Sox last night and have won 17 of their last 21 games. That’s the kind of run the Yankees have been unable to put together this season. Kansas City is 68-62 with a -18 run differential overall this year. The Yankees are 67-62 with a -9 run differential. These two clubs are separated by a half-game in the standings and obviously zero games in the loss column. Huge series. Huge.

Offense & Defense

Despite last night’s ten-run outburst (lol Red Sox pitching, lol), runs have been hard to come by for manager Ned Yost and his players. The defending World Series champions are averaging only 3.92 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+ this season. That ain’t good. Kansas City currently has only one injured position player, but it’s an important one: 3B Mike Moustakas (109 wRC+). He’s done for the season with a torn ACL suffered in a collision in June. Brutal.

Cain. (Jamie Squire/Getty)
Cain. (Jamie Squire/Getty)

Yost is known for setting his lineup and sticking to it, even when the team slumps. It was only recently that he dropped the wholly unproductive SS Alcides Escobar (65 wRC+) from leadoff to the bottom of the lineup. Nowadays OF Paulo Orlando (96 wRC+) and OF Jarrod Dyson (74 wRC+) platoon in the leadoff spot, and are followed in order by 3B Cheslor Cuthbert (103 wRC+), RF Lorenzo Cain (96 wRC+), 1B Eric Hosmer (104 wRC+), DH Kendrys Morales (96 wRC+), C Salvador Perez (97 wRC+), and LF Alex Gordon (92 wRC+). Those are the 1-7 hitters. Yost rarely deviates.

IF Raul Mondesi Jr. (36 wRC+) and IF Christian Colon (58 wRC+) share time at second and hit ninth. Escobar hits eighth. Also on the bench are speedster OF Billy Burns (50 wRC+) and backup C Drew Butera (102 wRC+). Those two don’t play a whole lot. Perez is workhorse behind the plate. He’s started 105 of the team’s 130 games this season. Only Yadier Molina has started more games at catcher in 2016. He’s started 114. That’s nuts.

Defensively, the Royals are the best in the business. They’re so good that Dyson and Orlando recently pushed Cain to right field full-time. Cain would be the everyday center fielder on pretty much any other team. Gordon is excellent in left, as are Escobar at short, Hosmer at first, and Perez behind the plate. Cuthbert isn’t Moustakas at the hot corner, but he’s good. Ditto the two guys at second. Kansas City is going to catch the ball. It’s what they do.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (8:15pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. KC) vs. RHP Dillon Gee (vs. NYY)
Gee, the former Met, jumped into Kansas City’s rotation full-time a few weeks back, after big Chris Young pitched his way into the bullpen. The 30-year-old has a 4.55 ERA (5.06 FIP) in 99 innings across eleven starts and 15 relief appearances, and it’s worth noting he’s been way more effective as a reliever (3.05 ERA and 4.94 FIP) than as a starter (5.62 ERA and 5.14 FIP). Gee has very unimpressive underlying stats (18.3 K%, 6.9 BB%, 43.2 GB%, 1.73 HR/9) and he’s been more effective against righties than lefties. As a starter Gee will sit right around 90 mph with his sinker, and he throws the three standard issue secondary pitches: mid-80s changeup, mid-80s slider, and upper-70s curveball. He uses all of them regularly too. True four-pitch guy. The Yankees did face Gee when these two teams met in May. He limited them to one run in 5.1 innings of long relief.

Tuesday (8:15pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. KC) vs. RHP Edinson Volquez (vs. NYY)
The 33-year-old Volquez has had himself a respectable career. Twelve years in the show with a 4.36 ERA (4.26 FIP), a World Series ring, and over $23M in contracts? You could do worse. Volquez has a 4.88 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 27 starts and 156.2 innings this season with a good grounder rate (53.0%) and middling strikeout (16.5%), walk (8.1%), and homer (1.03 HR/9) numbers. His platoon split is small because his low-to-mid-80s changeup is pretty nasty. Volquez still lives in the mid-90s with his sinker, and his hard power curveball averages right around 80 mph. When he’s on, Volquez has really nasty stuff. He can be dominant if he wakes up on the right side of the bed. The Yankees did not see the veteran righty earlier this year.

IPK. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
IPK. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Wednesday (8:15pm ET): RHP Luis Cessa (No vs. KC) vs. RHP Ian Kennedy (vs. NYY)
The reason the Royals are stuck trying to hang around in the wildcard race the year after winning the World Series is the rotation. It’s been pretty rough overall (4.54 ERA And 4.82 FIP). Kennedy, now 31, has been solid this season with a 3.57 ERA (4.68 FIP) in 26 starts and 153.2 innings. His strikeout (24.0%) and walk (7.5%) rates are right where they always are, but he’s been far more fly ball (33.3%) and home run (1.64 HR/9) prone than in the past. IPK’s platoon split is small. Kennedy used to be one of those guys who would mess around with six pitches, but at this point of his career he’s scaled it back to four: low-90s four-seamer, upper-80s cutter, low-80s changeup, upper-70s curveball. The Yankees scored seven runs in 6.1 innings against their 2006 first round pick back in May.

Bullpen Status

A few weeks ago the Royals lost all-world closer Wade Davis to a flexor tendon strain, and he only recently began facing hitters as part of his rehab work. He’ll rejoin the team after rosters expand in September, but not this series. Here is the relief crew Yost has at his disposal:

Closer: RHP Kelvin Herrera (1.84 ERA/2.11 FIP)
Setup: RHP Joakim Soria (3.67/4.36)
Middle: LHP Brian Flynn (2.66/3.19), RHP Peter Moylan (3.62/3.61), LHP Matt Strahm (0.68/1.05)
Long: RHP Chris Young (5.74/6.29), RHP Chien-Ming Wang (4.38/4.65)

Strahm’s the secret weapon. He was called up straight from Double-A after Davis got hurt, and so far he’s struck out 20 batters in 13.1 innings. Strahm has pitched like Davis, basically. He’s starting to take setup innings from Soria, who is still solid, but is no longer the pitcher he was a few years ago. That second Tommy John surgery is a doozy.

Strahm (45 pitches), Moylan (12 pitches), and Soria (28 pitches) all pitched last night. Wanger threw three innings and 44 pitches in mop-up duty Saturday night, so he might not be available tonight or tomorrow. They have to be careful with his shoulder. Hopefully we get to see him pitch at some point this series though, preferably with the Royals down big. Nothin’ but love for CMW. Check out our Bullpen Status for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers.

The Yankee offense has come to life in August, and it’s not all Gary Sanchez

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

Yesterday afternoon the Yankees were shut out by the Orioles and Kevin Gausman, which, unfortunately, has been all too common this season. They have no answer for Gausman at all. The young right-hander has made four starts against the Yankees this season and he’s held them to three runs in 27.2 innings. That’s a 0.98 ERA. He has a 4.41 ERA against all other teams. Sigh.

Thankfully, games like that, in which the offense no-shows, have been rare this month. Very rare, in fact. Yesterday’s loss snapped the Yankees’ five-game streak of scoring at least five runs, the team’s longest such streak in three years. The Yankees scored 14 runs Friday night and another 13 runs Saturday. They scored 10+ runs six times in the first 126 games of the season, then did it back-to-back days this weekend.

Even with yesterday’s shutout loss, the Yankees have scored 133 runs in August, making it their highest scoring month of the season. There’s still three more games to play before September arrives too. Here is the Yankees’ month-by-month runs scored ranks among the 30 MLB clubs:

April: 74 (30th)
May: 119 (22nd)
June: 129 (13th)
July: 97 (23rd)
August: 133 (4th)

Not surprisingly, power has played a big role in the Yankees’ sudden run-scoring ability. They’ve hit 40 homers so far this month, ten more than any other month this season. (They hit 30 in both May and June.) Obviously the arrival of Gary Sanchez has played a huge role in the improved offense. He’s hitting .425/.489/.938 (274 wRC+) with eleven homers in 21 games this season since being recalled after the trade deadline.

Sanchez is not the only reason the offense has been much improved this month though. Remember, the Yankees traded away Carlos Beltran at the deadline, and he was their best hitter for much of the season. It’s not like they simply added Sanchez on top of what they already had. Several players have improved their performance this month as well. Three others in particular have mashed in August:

April to July August
Starlin Castro .256/.292/.395 (81 wRC+) .309/.337/.557 (135 wRC+)
Aaron Hicks .187/.251/.287 (41 wRC+)  .307/.342/.480 (121 wRC+)
Mark Teixeira .192/.269/.322 (58 wRC+)  .254/.359/.433 (116 wRC+)

That doesn’t include the red hot Ronald Torreyes, who has gone 14-for-26 (.538) with six doubles, a homer, a walk, and no strikeouts over the last week. He’s exactly the kind of high-contact hitter who can go on an insane BABIP-fueled run like this. Torreyes replaced Chase Headley at third for a few games while Headley nursed an Achilles injury, and he’s stayed in the lineup because he’s been so hot.

There are reasons to believe this is all legit too. Castro has always been a second half hitter; he has a career 86 wRC+ in the first half and 105 in the second half. Hicks is playing everyday again, something he wasn’t able to do for much of the first half. I know no one wants to hear it, but I truly believe the regular at-bats help get him on track. Teixeira? Well, he couldn’t possibly be that bad all season, right? I hope so. We have to hope and pray a little more with Teixeira than we do Castro and Hicks.

It hasn’t all been good news this month. That’s just the way it goes. Brett Gardner (78 wRC+) and Jacoby Ellsbury (85 wRC+) haven’t been great in August, which is kind of a problem because they hit first and second — directly in front of the molten hot Sanchez — most games. Brian McCann (77 wRC+) hasn’t done much either, and call-ups Aaron Judge (85 wRC+) and Tyler Austin (-11 wRC+) have cooled off following their big MLB debuts. You can’t really expect the kids to carry the offense though. Sanchez is the exception, not the rule.

Still, the point is the Yankees have multiple hitters locked in right now. Most of the season they were able to rely on Beltran and maybe one other hitter at any given time. Didi Gregorius was hot for a while. Then it was McCann. Then Headley. Then whoever. The offense never seemed to fire on all cylinders, and truth be told, it still doesn’t feel that way. At least now there’s more than one or two guys carrying to load. Sanchez has been getting the kind of help Beltran never received.

The Yankees beat up on some bad Orioles pitching Friday and Saturday night, which skews their August numbers a tad. They’re averaging 4.61 runs per game this month if you remove those two blowouts, which is still their second highest scoring month this year after June (4.78). Friday’s and Saturday’s games happened though. They count. Earlier this year the Yankees rarely beat up on bad pitching. They just did it on back-to-back days.

No one expects Sanchez to stay this hot the rest of the season. It’s pretty much impossible. Hopefully as he cools down others like Gardner and Ellsbury and McCann heat back up and create a deeper, more balanced lineup. Scoring runs can still be a struggle for the Yankees, we saw it yesterday, but they’ve done a much better job offensively of late. They’ll have to keep up this pace to continue climbing back into the postseason race.

Yankeemetrics: No sweep for you [Aug. 26-28]

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Mr. Unstoppable
One of the most incredible starts to a career continued on Friday night with Gary Sanchez extending his unprecedented assault on big-league pitching in the series opener. He added three more hits, including a double and a homer, and drove in four runs to lead the Yankees to a 14-4 blowout win.

Sanchez is setting the record books ablaze every time he steps the plate as his feats are reaching epic proportions and every at-bat becomes must-see television for Yankee fans everywhere. At this point in his record-breaking spree, it’s just easier to recap with bullet points, so here we go:

  • By hitting his 10th homer on Friday, all of which have come in August, Sanchez broke the Yankee rookie record for homers in a calendar month. The previous mark of nine was set by Joe DiMaggio in August 1936 and later tied by Tom Tresh in August 1962.
  • He became the third-fastest player in MLB history to reach 10 homers, behind only Rockies shortstop Trevor Story (21 games earlier this year) and Red Sox infielder George Scott (21 games in 1966)
  • The three-hit, four-RBI performance also pushed his career totals in those stats to 31 and 20, respectively. The only Yankee to reach 30 career hits faster than Sanchez was Joe DiMaggio (16[!] games in 1936); the only Yankees to reach 20 career RBI faster than Sanchez were Hideki Matsui (20 games in 2003) and DiMaggio (21).
  • Where Sanchez truly stands alone in baseball history is his unique combination of elite hit and power tools: He is the first player in major-league history to compile at least 10 homers and 30 hits this early into his career (22nd game).

And we’ll finish this section with a #FunFact, because why not? Sanchez is the youngest Yankee catcher with at least three hits, three runs scored and four RBI in a game since a 23-year-old Yogi Berra on Aug. 3, 1948 against the Tigers.

Sanchez is not human
On Saturday, this Sanchez kid officially zoomed past the basic level of historic and entered the upper realm of absurdity. Since we’re beginning to run out of words to describe Sanchez’s mind-boggling pace, I’ll just put this GIF here instead:

on fire

Yup, he did it again. Sanchez homered for the 11th time this season, fueling another pinstriped offensive explosion as the Yankee routed the Orioles, 13-5. With his 370-foot blast to right-center in the fourth inning, he became the fastest player in the history of major-league baseball to reach the 11-homer mark, doing so in his 23rd career game.

All 11 of his homers came since his recall in early August, making this not just an unbelievable career-opening run, but also one of the best power-hitting months by any young player in recent memory. To the bullet points again:

  • Sanchez is the third Yankee ever to hit at least 11 homers in any month in his age-23 season or younger, joining Mickey Mantle (12 in August 1955) and Joe DiMaggio (15 in July 1937).
  • The rookie phenom is also the youngest big-league catcher since Johnny Bench in 1970 to go yard 11-plus times in a month.
  • And Sanchez is the first American League player in his age-23 season or younger to pile up at least 11 homers and 30 hits in a month since Alex Rodriguez (11 homers, 36 hits) for the Mariners in August 1999.

Sanchez wasn’t the only Yankee with a monster game. One of the guys he shared the spotlight with was Starlin Castro, who repeatedly destroyed the baseball on Saturday as he went 4-for-6, scored three runs, stole a base and drove in three runs.

Only one other second baseman in franchise history has enjoyed such a productive night at the plate — at least four hits, three runs, three RBI and a steal: Alfonso Soriano had a game with those numbers on April 8, 2002 against the Blue Jays.

Overall, for the second time in two games against the Orioles, the Yankee bats punished Orioles pitching — in record-breaking fashion. Coupled with Friday’s offensive fireworks, this is the first time since at least 1913 (and likely ever) that the Yankees have scored at least 13 runs, gotten 18 or more hits, and went deep at least three times in back-to-back games.


The Sunday Letdown
Nothing lasts forever, right? The Orioles somehow managed to cool off the torrid bat of Gary Sanchez and the streaking Yankees, blanking them, 5-0, on Sunday afternoon. For the seventh time this season the Yankees were going for a three-game sweep … and for the seventh time they failed to complete it.

The lack of three-game sweeps might be an odd stat, and sweeps are not “easy,” but it does speak to the inconsistency — and an inability to go on an extended season-changing run — that has plagued this Yankee team since day one. (Though, to be fair, they do have two four-game sweeps.)

The Orioles did manage to keep Sanchez from sending a ball over the fences, but the young slugger’s power binge was merely tempered. He still finished with two hits, a single and a double, in four at-bats, giving him a whopping 19 extra-base hits in the big leagues.

Only two major-league players in the last century had that many hits for extra bases this early into their careers (24th game): Mandy Brooks had 22 for the Cubs in 1925 and DiMaggio had 19 for the Yankees in 1936. Oh, and he now has more than twice as many multi-hit games (10) as hitless games (4) among the 22 contests he has started in pinstripes.

The fact that Orioles starter Kevin Gausman shut down the Bronx Bombers’ surging bats is hardly surprising given his dominance of them this year. After throwing seven scoreless innings on Sunday, he now owns a 0.98 ERA across four starts versus the Yankees. The last pitcher to finish a season with a sub-1.00 ERA in four-or-more starts against the Yankees was Angels lefty Chuck Finley in 1996 (0.57).