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Gary Sanchez’s struggles at the plate over the course of the last two seasons have been well-documented.
After a pair of All-Star nods, a slash line of .246/.328/.518, and 105 home runs over his first 372 games as a pro, Sanchez’s productivity nose-dived in 2020 and into the early part of 2021, with him slashing just .177/.290/.374 while Kyle Higashioka earned more and more playing time.
But in Tuesday’s 8-4 win over the Minnesota Twins, Sanchez went 2-for-5 at the plate with a home run and a pair of RBI to help the Yankees secure the victory, and as pointed out by MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, Sanchez has been on a tear wince May 27, slashing .353/.436/.618 with three doubles, two homers, and six RBI.
Both Sanchez and his manager spoke after Tuesday’s win about how the only way Sanchez was ever going to break out of his hitting slump was for the backstop to put in the work.
“There are so many things you think about when you’re struggling at the plate and things aren’t working out,” Sanchez said. “But at the same time, you understand that the only way out is to continue to work. That’s what I focused on, and I’m glad things have been working out.”
“Pitch selection’s been good, he’s quieted down his lower half. He’s worked really hard to kind of make an adjustment here over the last three-four weeks,” said Aaron Boone.
“We’re seeing results. He’s actually hit into a lot of tough luck, and again tonight. … The walks have been in there a little bit, I feel like he’s handling more pitches, and it’s been because he’s worked and it’s been because he’s made some adjustments, and he’s starting to get some results there.”
Boone also pointed out that Sanchez’s torrid hitting has carried over into his play behind the plate, where he's shown improvement with his defense.
“He’s never wavered in his confidence. His work has been excellent on both sides of the ball,” said Boone. “I feel like he’s doing a really good job behind the plate as well. He’s got a long way to go still, as a lot of us do, to continue to get to where we need to go, but without question I think the last few weeks, it’s been more consistency all around for Gary.
Sanchez’s two-run homer in the ninth inning, paired with Miguel Andujar’s solo shot in the same inning, provided the cherry on top of a big night at the plate for the Yankees, and a much-needed one at that. The Bombers snapped their four-game losing streak while getting 14 hits as a team, and Sanchez’s teammates know how much his bat means to this lineup.
“He swung the bat great tonight,” said DJ LeMahieu.
“He’s extremely talented … He had a tough season last year and a little inconsistent this year, but it’s in him. It’s in him, and we saw it tonight. Really had some great at-bats, and I know he’s worked his tail off to get back to where he needs to be.”
“He’s a guy that when he gets going and he’s right at the plate, he can carry your team,” added Brett Gardner. “We’ve seen it before in the past, and I see no reason to believe that he can’t continue to do that moving forward.
“When he’s on time, he’s a very dangerous hitter.”