LADY AT THE BAT: Sanchez Walk Off HR Sets Stage For Yankees' West Coast Trip

Friday, April 27, 2018

Sanchez Walk Off HR Sets Stage For Yankees' West Coast Trip

That Fernando Rodney signature bow and arrow shot never came Thursday afternoon.

And the Yankees were trailing 3-1 when Twins closer Rodney came into the game in the 9th inning, attempting to protect that lead on a getaway afternoon, hoping to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Yankees. The inning began when Didi Gergorius reached on an error. Giancarlo Stanton became the tying run and reached on a weak grounder to third, good for an infield single.

Enter Gary Sanchez.

Sanchez has been hitting below the Mendoza line for much of this early season. He was 0 for 3 with a strikeout on Thursday afternoon as the 9th inning started. One swing and the game was over. Rodney recorded no outs. Three hitters and all three reached base with the last of them, Sanchez, reaching the left field seats for a 4-3 walk off victory, the Yankees' (15-9) sixth consecutive win.

Sanchez is only hitting .202 but Thursday it hardly mattered. Jordan Montgomery tried to match zeros with Twins starter Kyle Gibson (no runs on one hit in six innings), but Monty's pitch count reached 98 after five innings though with only two runs allowed. Seldom used reliever Domingo German replaced Montgomery and threw three solid innings of one run baseball. Trailing 3-0, the Yankees could only muster a run off the Twins bullpen as Dellin Betances took the mound to start the ninth inning. Thirteen pitches and eleven strikes later, all three Twins batters in that 9th were strikeout victims of Betances, setting the stage for the game changing bottom of the ninth. Those who could see the immediate future could have said:

Unleash the Kraken.

Notes
Tyler Austin will begin his four day suspension Friday, so Neil Walker takes over at first base. The Yankees will be one man short for those four days, so expect them to add another bench player, probably when Brandon Drury returns from the disabled list. The 13 man pitching staff will likely be reduced to 12 to make room for Drury. I read many fans on social media who are calling for Walker's immediate release. First, let's get past the Austin suspension. I don't expect we will see Walker finish the season as a Yankee, but Walker will probably hang on for awhile, at least until Greg Bird returns in about another month.

The Yankees are on a western road trip which begins on the west coast Friday night at Anaheim but does not remain on the coast, moving on to Houston for a four game set with the World Champion Astros. The Yankees have fared poorly at the big A versus the Angels for some time now. They are 15-24 the last ten seasons at the Angels home park. As for the Astros, you might remember the last four games the Yankees played there this past October, all losses in losing the ALCS four games to three, with the home team winning all seven games.

Here's hoping for better results on this seven game trip.

The Yankees finished the ten game home stand at 8-2, suffering only that humiliating defeat at the hands of the Marlins 9-1 and losing to Toronto 7-5 in the midst of another Sonny Gray struggle. Gray lasted only 4 2/3 innings in his last start against the Twins this week, but the Yankees managed to win with lots of bullpen help. The rest of the home stand was Yankees dominance with the heroics of shortstop Didi Gregorius (9 home runs and 29 RBI's for the season) and the introduction of Didl's new double play partner, Gleyber Torres, who in a small sample appears to be ready to take command of the second base job for the foreseeable future. Gleyber is going to be fun to watch.

The youth movement is alive and well and again the Yankees appear to be back on track as a contender in the AL. Get it done out west, guys.

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