Sanchez's 20th homer ties 86-year-old mark

Sanchez's 20th homer ties 86-year-old mark

NEW YORK -- Gary Sanchez's remarkable march through the history books continued in the Yankees' 6-4 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday, as the rookie launched his 20th home run in his 51st career game to equal an 86-year-old Major League record.

Sanchez hit a first-inning home run off Red Sox left-hander David Price, a two-run shot that landed in the left-field bullpen at Yankee Stadium. The blast matched Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves as the fastest player to reach 20 homers.

"I'm a little surprised, but I work very hard," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "When I go out there, I try to give everything I have. I try to focus on my at-bats and getting good pitches to hit, and that's the approach."

The 23-year-old Sanchez was called up for his second big league stint of the year on Aug. 3; his 20th home run came in his 185th at-bat of the season.

"I think everybody on the team calls 'home run' when he steps up there," said Tyler Austin, who hit the game-winning homer off Price in the seventh inning. "When you get on a roll like he's on and the way he's swinging the bat, I feel like every time he steps in the box, it could be a home run."

Sanchez's homer had an exit velocity of 106.5 mph and traveled a Statcast-projected 407 feet, just another blow in a late-season surge that has stoked an unlikely candidacy for the American League's Rookie of the Year Award.

"That will be up to the people that vote," Sanchez said. "My focus right now is to finish strong, finish the season strong."

Sanchez has won over at least one supporter. Yankees manager Joe Girardi was initially hesitant to talk about Sanchez's candidacy, but he now believes that Sanchez has done enough to overtake right-hander Michael Fulmer of the Tigers as a front-runner for those honors.

Radio Call: Sanchez's 20th homer

"I can tell you, Gary's meant as much to this team as any rookie in the big leagues this year, and he's only been here what, a month and a half?" Girardi said. "That's how important he has been. I think Fulmer's had a great year, but if I had a vote, it'd be for Gary."

The 20 homers are tied with Lou Gehrig (1925) and Tom Tresh ('62) for the fourth-most by a rookie in Yankees history, trailing Joe DiMaggio (29 in '36), Joe Gordon (25 in '38) and Kevin Maas (21 in '90).

Additionally, Sanchez's 42 RBIs are the fourth-most by a Yankee in 51 career games, trailing DiMaggio (56), Gordon (47) and Tony Lazzeri (43). Sanchez insists that the game is more difficult than he has been making it look.

"Nothing is easy in baseball," Sanchez said. "Everything in baseball is very hard. But like I said before, you want to keep working hard, you want to keep looking for pitches and you want to keep putting swings on those pitches."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.