New York Yankees rookie Gary Sanchez is so locked in right now, teams have no choice but to consider pitching around him. With 13 home runs in his first 35 games, he’s on a ridiculous pace that should net him consideration in the AL Rookie of the Year race, despite being called up in August.
Unfortunately for Yankees opponents, even pitching around him or intentionally walking Sanchez can be a difficult and even dangerous proposition. Just ask the Tampa Bay Rays. They fully intended to intentionally walk Sanchez after he lit them up for a home run on Friday night and another earlier in Saturday’s game. However, they soon found out that even those seemingly fool proof plans can be dangerous if the procedure isn’t executed precisely.
To set the scene, New York had runners on second and third with no outs in the eighth inning when Rays Kevin Cash instructed left-handed reliever Enny Romero to throw four intentional balls to Sanchez, which would have loaded the bases. Unfortunately for Romero, the very first pitch, or in this case lob, dropped right into Sanchez’s hitting zone.
Even more unfortunate for Romero, Sanchez wasn’t assuming anything. He was in hitting mode, so when he saw that lob floating in there, he did not hesitate to take a mighty hack.
That looked like another pretty good hitter who about this time ten years ago hit an intentional walk pitch for a game-tying single. Perhaps you’ve heard of Miguel Cabrera.
What followed after Sanchez’s swing was the only positive moment of the entire sequence for the Rays. Sanchez’s fly ball carried and carried and carried, but barely stayed in the yard. Center fielder Mikie Mahtook made the catch on the warning track, but both runners advanced, giving Sanchez a sacrifice fly and RBI.
Gary Sanchez intentional ball sac fly was the slowest pitch put in play this year… 51.8 MPH.
— Daren Willman (@darenw) September 10, 2016
Who knows, with a little more velocity, Sanchez might have hit that one over Monument Park. Either way, he got another rise out of an appreciative Yankees crowd as he helped cement a 5-1 win. That gives the Yankees seven victories in a row.
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