Gary Sanchez error opens the floodgates as Yankees get blasted by Cleveland, 11-3

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Oscar Mercado was already heading back to the visitors dugout at Yankee Stadium. But Gary Sanchez lost the high pop-up behind home plate in the fifth inning and that kept the door open for Cleveland. They cashed in on that error and beat up the Yankees in a devastating loss 11-3 on Saturday at the Stadium.

“He just missed it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously, anytime you have a pop up to the catcher right behind home plate, it has that backspin, so it comes back, but catchers are usually prepared for that. Gary’s actually usually really good with pop ups. I think he probably got a little too upright and didn’t move enough as it kind of worked its way back to the field.

“But, you gotta make that play.”

This is the second costly loss in a week for the Yankees, who were one strike away from sweeping the Orioles on Thursday when a wild pitch got past Sanchez as they went on to lose to the worst team in baseball. It’s a missed opportunity for the Yankees (83-66), who dropped behind the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the race for the two Wild Card spots in the American League. As the Yankees push for the playoffs, some lineup decisions may be made in deference to Kyle Higashioka’s defense.

“Look, they’re both gonna play. Higgy’s obviously earned more playing time here over the last couple of years with his outstanding play and obviously what he brings behind the plate,” Boone said. “I mean, it’ll be a day-to-day situation and we’ll try and play the guy that gives us the best chance to win that night.”

Sanchez lost his starting job last season and ended up with just nine at-bats in six playoff games. He said he will be ready whenever the Yankees need him down the stretch.

“I’m here to play every day, and that’s the way I see it and I’m here to help this team play every day,” Sanchez said through Yankees interpreter Marlon Abreu. “I don’t make those decisions. They do, and they make the best decision possible. For me it’s just being ready to play every day.”

Luis Gil, who had been so stellar in his first three big league starts, wasn’t able to get out of the fifth inning. He gave up a solo home run to Yu Chang and then got in trouble in that fifth inning.

He had gotten one out and looked like he had Mercado too when the foul pop up dropped off Sanchez’s glove.

“Definitely a play there that I’m used to making, especially this year, I’ve been very good, catching those flies, I think is the first one I missed this year,” Sanchez said. “Just a bad read with a fly ball, I think I got under too much and when the ball’s coming down it has backspin, and I wasn’t in a good position to catch it there.”

Gil, who allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks and struck out six, said that did not affect him.

“We need to understand we’re humans and we’re going to make mistakes from time to time. It was a difficult foul ball there for Gary. Following that I was trying to execute a good fastball in, and unfortunately I ended up hitting the batter,” Gil said. “But I can tell you that that did not affect me.”

After hitting Mercado, Gil walked Jose Ramirez to end his day and the wheels came off.

Fellow rookie Albert Abreu gave up an RBI-double to Franmil Reyes and then hit Harold Ramirez before giving up a two-run double to Chang. Owen Miller singled in another run before former Mets prospect Andres Gimenez crushed a three-run home run before the home team got out of the inning.

Saturday, Sanchez made the mistake that opened the door, but more concerning is the Yankees’ erratic offense. After crushing five home runs in a laugher over Cleveland on Friday night, they were held to a solo home run by Giancarlo Stanton, his 30th of the season, and a two-run homer from Luke Voit.

“It happens, we have to move on in our mentalities, and we need to win tomorrow, so we got to go in tomorrow, do our homework and prepare and get ready,” Voit said. “You know we got to forget, we gotta (be) goldfish and have a 10-second memory.”