Game's No. 35 prospect hits moonshot as part of four-hit night in win
By Craig Forde
Special to MLB.com |
BOSTON -- On a night when the Yankees pounded out 15 hits in a 9-4 win over the Red Sox, rookie Gary Sanchez stood out with the best performance of his young big league career under the bright Fenway Park lights.
The 23-year-old Sanchez, who has caught throughout his pro career but served as designated hitter on Wednesday, raised his average to .321 with a career-high four hits, including his first big league home run, a towering drive to center field in the eighth.
"We've liked the way this kid has swung the bats for years," said manager Joe Girardi. "I think he's done a good job catching. To have his first homer, and he had some big hits tonight, was really nice to see."
"There's a lot of excitement," Sanchez said through a translator. "Being able to hit your first home run is definitely a good feeling."
Ranked by MLBPipeline.com as the No. 5 prospect in a deep Yankees system and No. 35 in baseball, Sanchez started his evening at the plate with a groundout in the second inning. He followed with a single in his next at-bat but was stranded at second base.
Batting second in the seventh inning, Sanchez followed Didi Gregorius' single with one of his own and would come around to score as part of a five-run rally that put the Yankees ahead for good.
It was in the next inning that Sanchez put his power potential on display, drilling a 2-0 offering from Junichi Tazawa for a leadoff homer to add to the Yankees' lead.
"I'm going up there to put a good swing on the ball," Sanchez said. "During the game, I'm in the cage and I'm working, and that's giving me good results right now."
After adding another single in the ninth, Sanchez finished the night 4-for-5 with one RBI and two runs scored, and both player and manager attributed part of the young slugger's success to finding a comfort level.
"I felt comfortable going out there putting a good swing on the ball and staying compact," Sanchez said.
"Being in Spring Training the last couple of years and getting to know the guys, I really believe it helps," Girardi said. "He looks pretty comfortable to me."
Craig Forde is a contributor to MLB.com based in Boston and covered the Yankees on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.