As everyone knows, Gary Sanchez was a beast at the plate last season. He had a performance for the ages in his brief time with the Yankees hitting 20 home runs in only 53 games, so naturally Yankee fans were excited, and anxious, to see how Sanchez’s 2017 would turn out.
Well, the start to the season had been slow for Sanchez. Heading into Friday night’s contest with the Baltimore Orioles, Sanchez only had one hit and three strikeouts in 14 at-bats. Small sample size, yes, but as everyone knows, Yankee fans can be impatient.
After a walk in the first inning and a groundout in the third, Sanchez finally connected on a pitch and sent it bye-bye into the Baltimore night. Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez hung a splitter over the plate and slightly in and Sanchez clobbered it into the left field seats to put the Yankees up 5-1.
For Yankees fans, it was a huge relief to see Sanchez get over the “hump” and finally hit a home run. Overall, Sanchez was 2-4 with a single and a walk to go along with his home run.
Up until Friday night, he was having a lot of bad luck at the plate. He was hitting balls hard but right at fielders, and was not seeing any results, but a game like Friday’s can get a player going and Yankee fans will be thrilled if that happens for the young catcher.
The other young guys, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge, are also not having good luck at the plate. Bird is batting .063/.167/.125 with one hit—a double—in 18 at-bats with seven strikeouts while Judge is batting .133/.188/.200 in 15 at-bats with two hits and five strikeouts.
After the game, Bird played down his slow start and blamed the typical ups and downs of a baseball season. He added, “I like that I’m swinging at what I want to swing at, but I’m just not hitting what I want to swing at. So I’ve got to do a better job there.”
As for Judge, manager Joe Girardi said before Friday’s game, “I think (Aaron) Judge has had some really good swings at some breaking balls he’s just missed.” He added succinctly, “It’s three days.”
The season is young and Sanchez seems to be breaking out of his early slump. Hopefully, Bird and Judge will follow.
Photo: Kim Klement / USATSI