When you’ve fallen into a pit, you should allow yourself to accept every little step in it. So it was that the Yankees just breathed a little Twins to beat their old punching bags Tuesday night, 8-4 at target field, to end a four-game losing streak and put the break on a brutal 3-10 stretch.
No one lived in the deep pit on this roster more than Gary Sanchez. And though we’ve seen much to suggest that he is completely beyond his mythical woes, give the young man some credit.
He has endured the kind of scrutiny and criticism that few professional athletes have faced. And he still stands.
“When you’re struggling and things aren’t working out, you think about a lot of things,” Sanchez said through an interpreter after the game, “but at the same time, you understand that things don’t work.” The only way is to continue doing it. That’s what I focused on and I’m glad things are going well.”
The catcher navigated a competitive Twins lineup with starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery, who later announced to his batmate, “This is my boy.”
Sanchez also singled out and came around to take the (temporary) lead run in the sixth inning, and in the ninth, with the Yankees taking a two-run lead, he hit a two-run homer off Twins rookie reliever Griffin Jacques. was crushed, which ruined his score. Major-league debut and certainly giving the worried Yankees a cushion.
Sanchez now has .739 Ops, and if that doesn’t put him in the same conversation as Mike Trout or his longtime partner Aaron Judge, it’s a lot better than the .618 he posted last season, when he had struggled. So badly on both sides of the ball during the COVID-shortened schedule that some pundits, including you, told the Yankees to non-tender and move on.
Who can still prove to be a proper counselor. Let’s not close this file. Yet given how Sanchez started this season, down from .617 (one point less than last year!) on April 26, give the 28-year-old some credit.
“He never wavered from his confidence,” Aaron Boone said of Sanchez. “His work has been excellent on both sides of the ball. He still has a long way to go, as many of us do, to get where we need to go. But without question, there has been more consistency all around for Gary over the past few weeks. “
“I’ve said for the past three years, I think Gary is one of the most talented right-handed hitters in the game, and I know that last year clearly didn’t go his way, and then earlier this year said Brett Gardner, who as a Yankee since 1951 (actually 2008) has known well what it’s like to stumble into a pinstriped pit. “But he’s on either side of the ball, a lot. He’s very, very talented, and he’s clearly a big part of our team. He’s the kind of guy who, when he’s on the move and ready to play, can propel your team. We’ve seen it before. I see no reason to believe that he cannot continue to do so going forward.”
“It’s nice to hear this from Gardy,” Sanchez said, “but … I can’t take the team alone. It does not work that way. That’s why we are a team. We are going to do our bit and each of us has a responsibility to move forward together.”
Sure enough, these Yankees, who are now 32-29, overtook the Blue Jays in the American League East to reach third place, they have miles to go before they sleep. However, he then had to put himself to sleep, find rest in a pit of his own making, and return on Wednesday hoping to take another step.
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