Monday night was not a good night for New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. With the Yankees falling behind the Boston Red Sox by multiple games in the American League East, they need every win they can get. Unfortunately, Sanchez made a few mistakes — including not running hard to first on a play that could have tied the score — that cost the Yanks a winnable game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Yankees’ blunders
Everyone makes mistakes. That’s a fact of life. But when those mistakes cost your team a winnable game, they’re a little tougher for fans to take. So goes the story of Gary Sanchez and his two mistakes during the Yankees-Rays game.
The first came in the first inning, after Yankees starter Luis Severino allowed a two-out double to Jake Bauers. With Bauers on second base, Severino threw a pitch that bounced off of Sanchez’s leg. It rolled up the third base line, and instead of scrambling for the ball to make sure Bauers didn’t take more than one base, Sanchez jogged to get it. Bauers noticed, and after he hit third base he kept on running for home and scored.
Severino didn’t have a great outing on Monday, giving up all seven runs the Rays would score, but the Yankees fought back and were just one run down in the ninth inning. Sanchez came up with two outs and the bases loaded, the tying and go-ahead runs on the bases in front of him. Sanchez whacked a grounder to the second baseman and then took his time getting up the line. Maybe he thought the runner in front of him would be out at second, but the Rays couldn’t get the out there. That misplay gave Sanchez even more time to make it to first base before the ball got there, but he didn’t use that time. He tried to speed up when he realized what was going on, but it was too late by then. He was out by a step and the Rays won the game.
If Sanchez had hustled, he likely would have been safe and the tying run would have scored. Joey Johnston of MLB.com showed the difference between Sanchez running flat out, and Sanchez on Monday night.
Sanchez, who needed 5.39 seconds to reach first base, has raced from home to first as quickly as 4.33 seconds this season. Sanchez’s “max-effort” average on runs from home to first this year — the top 10 percent of his home-to-first dashes — is 4.53 seconds.
Considering that Sanchez was only out at first by a step, he wouldn’t have had to give his “max effort” to be safe. But 5.39 seconds gave the Rays all the time they needed.
Sanchez took the blame for his mistakes
After the game, Sanchez recognized that he didn’t give his best in the last play of the game.
“I think I could have done a better job there, for sure,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I hit the ball well. When the play developed and I saw the runner safe at second base, I tried to beat the play, but I couldn’t.
“I hit the ball well there. I should have run harder. There was a chance [Hicks] was going to be out at second base, but that didn’t happen. He was safe.”
He also stepped up and took responsibility for the passed ball in the first inning.
“That’s another instance where, if I did a better job being quicker getting the ball, maybe we have a chance to get him out at home, and that’s my fault,” Sanchez said.
When asked about Sanchez’s running on the final play, Yankees manager Aaron Boone didn’t have much to say, only that he’d have to watch the play back to see if Sanchez wasn’t hustling.
Aaron Boone on Gary Sanchez's night pic.twitter.com/7kK9iMgTor
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) July 24, 2018
Most fans were probably hoping that Boone would give Sanchez a speech like this.
But later in the day on Tuesday, the Yankees placed Sanchez on the disabled list with a groin strain, which he’d aggravated during the passed ball incident in the first inning of Monday’s game.
Via interpreter, Gary Sanchez felt right groin "grab'' during 1st inn. passed ball play last nite, but left ballpark not thinking he'd be DL candidate. MRI this a.m. showed same strain, though he feels it's less tight than previous injury. Repeated it was no excuse for non-hustle
— Pete Caldera (@pcaldera) July 24, 2018
Sanchez didn’t mention any injuries in his postgame comments, and he played the entire game against the Rays. He told the press that the injury wasn’t an excuse for his lack of hustle, but the reality is that if Sanchez was hurt, he shouldn’t have been playing. Especially since this isn’t a new injury. Sanchez missed nearly a month starting at the end of June with a groin injury, and was activated from the disabled list on July 19. As of Tuesday, he’d been back for just five days, and now he’s headed right back.
But the damage was done
Despite Sanchez taking the blame after the game (not to mention the injury revelation), the damage had been done. Fans were enraged, and when fans are enraged about something the Yankees have done, you know the New York Post is going to be there with a nickname and a big dollop of hyperbole.
— New York Post Sports (@nypostsports) July 24, 2018
Let’s hope the nickname “Gary Maniloaf” dies there, but if not, I’m sure Barry Manilow would be happy to do a duet of “Ready to Take a Chance Again” with Gary Sanchez at his earliest convenience. But perhaps the deepest cut was from the Yankees own Twitter account.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) July 24, 2018
Austin Romine is the Yanks’ backup catcher, and he’s the recipient of their Heart and Hustle Award. It’s not an intentional subtweet, because every team tweeted the recipients of their own Heart and Hustle Awards on Tuesday morning. But given what happened with Sanchez and his lack of hustle on Monday night, the timing was, well, almost ridiculously perfect.
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