SEATTLE — New York Yankees rookie Gary Sanchez is taking everyone’s at-bats. First, he stripped Brian McCann of his catching gear, after becoming the Yankees’ regular catcher. Now, Joe Girardi won’t even sit Sanchez on what was supposed to be a day off.
Sanchez is expected to be behind home plate on Wednesday afternoon as Masahiro Tanaka faces Hisashi Iwakuma. The last time Sanchez caught Tanaka, Tanaka fired 7? scoreless innings against the Angels. In that series, Sanchez threw out Mike Trout on a one-hop throw and picked off a guy at first.
Girardi studies his catcher probably with more intensity than any other position. It was the position he played in the majors. He is a big believer that it is defense that comes first with a catcher, which is something he has preached to Sanchez.
With that said, Girardi notices all the nuances of the position. Sanchez checks them off. That is why he caught a day game after a night game over the weekend.
Sanchez is also crushing the ball, which is why Girardi kept him in the lineup Tuesday. Girardi plans on riding the impressive 23-year-old as far as he will take the Yankees. Does anyone watching, besides opponents, want Sanchez to have a day off, anyway?
“I’m feeling great right now,” Jones said Monday. “On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s probably like a two right now. It healed up fast, I got great treatment in so it wasn’t bad for what I did. We’re looking great right now and hoping for a speedy recovery.”
The Seager-Turner-Gonzalez combination just meant that it was the usual suspects who produced. Seager has delivered all throughout his rookie season, Turner’s emergence about two months ago started the offensive revival, and Gonzalez’s production of late is really what has turned the offense dynamic.
“[Those were] very competitive at-bats one through eight [in the lineup], but the 3-4-5 guys really came up huge for us,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Bumgarner is one of the elite pitchers in baseball and [our] focus to grind out at-bats and get some key hits and have a lot of traffic and stress him all night, get the pitch count up and get those big hits, was a huge lift.”
Others in the Dodgers’ offense are starting to get into the act as well. Rob Segedin and Andrew Toles each hit their second career home run Tuesday after going back-to-back on Monday at Cincinnati. Toles finished with two hits and three RBIs, which would have been a busy day under the circumstances, but he didn’t even enter the game until the sixth inning as a pinch hitter.
OK, so maybe it’s not really official yet. But Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after Tuesday night’s 8-1 win over the Washington Nationals that his ace is headed to the 15-day disabled list with shoulder inflammation. So let’s call it unofficially official. Which unofficially officially makes the Orioles’ chances of reaching the playoffs a whole lot worse than they would’ve been if Tillman were healthy.
“It certainly helped,” said Showalter, who became the third manager this season to win three challenges in the same game. Two of his successful challenges came on Turner’s steal attempts, both of which were initially ruled safe. “We needed each one of them. It kept any momentum from getting going.”
If the O’s are going to keep their own momentum going without Tillman, they’ll need to continue the all-hands-on-deck approach, both when the Battle of the Beltway relocates to Nats Park on Wednesday, and beyond.
“We are going to miss him on the mound,” center fielder Adam Jones (4-for-5 on Tuesday) said of Tillman, “but we’re still going to keep fighting and grinding. When he comes back hopefully after the 15 days, mid-September, whenever he does, he comes back fresh and ready to make his last three or four starts in a tight race.”
For what it’s worth, Tillman himself doesn’t seem terribly concerned about how his team will fare without him. Or, if he is, he’s not letting it show.
“These guys are hitting the ball well, having fun as a group,” Tillman said. “So we’d like to keep it going. We’re playing good baseball.”
Only time will tell if it’s good enough.