The New York Yankees are battling with the division rival Boston Red Sox for supremacy in the American League East. You wouldn’t know that, however, by watching Gary Sanchez’s effort level behind the plate and on the basepaths.
Sanchez cost the Yankees two runs in their 7-6 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on Monday night.
One of those runs came in the first inning when Tampa Bay scored on Sanchez’s 10th passed ball of the season. After Sanchez and starting pitcher Luis Severino got their signs crossed, Sanchez leisurely tracked down the ball in foul territory, giving ample time for Tampa Bay’s Jake Bauers to score _**_all the way from second base.
Admitting his mistake following the loss, Sanchez acknowledged his lack of hustle was to blame for Bauers scoring.
“If I would have done a better job being quicker, getting that ball, maybe we have a chance to get him out at home,” Sanchez said via a translator. “That's my fault.”
With the Yankees trailing by a run with two outs in the ninth inning and the bases juiced, Sanchez hit a grounder to second baseman Daniel Robertson. Robertson's toss to shortstop Willy Adames was too late as the Yankees' Aaron Hicks beat out the flip—but Adames still had time to retire a lackadaisical Sanchez at first to end the contest.
“I should have run harder,” Sanchez said after the defeat. “This is one of those instances where you learn from it. You put it behind and look forward to tomorrow.”
While Sanchez may be looking forward to Tuesday’s contest, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has no choice but to sit the 25-year-old catcher for the second game of the series. In 14 at-bats since being reinstated from the disabled list on July 20th, Sanchez has just two hits and has struck out four times. For the season, he is hitting a paltry .188—much lower than the .278 figure he batted in 2017.
A lack of hustle for a Yankees team that is an even 13-13 in their last 26 games cannot be tolerated by Boone. By dogging it down the line in the game-ending play, Sanchez may have forced Boone’s hand to start backup catcher Austin Romine on a regular basis moving forward.
Romine has hit a respectable .270 with a .331 OBP, clubbing six homers and collecting 26 RBI for the year. He is a far better defensive player than Sanchez, who is allowing passed balls at an alarming rate.
A MLB scout told New Jersey Advance Media that Sanchez’s laziness could cost the Yankees in the playoffs—and this was said before the catcher’s two inexcusable gaffes in Monday’s loss.
“I just don't know if I can trust Sanchez behind the plate and I know I can't trust him to run hard,” the scout who requested anonymity said.
The scout believes Boone should insert Romine into the starting lineup.
“They're going to have to catch Austin Romine in the playoffs,” the scout said.
“I'm telling you, [Sanchez] is going to cost the Yankees big-time at some point. And it might be in a playoff elimination game.”
The Yankees do appear destined for the AL Wild-Card playoff, as they now trail the Red Sox by six games in the division, their largest deficit since April 21. The Red Sox own the top record in baseball and are showing no signs of slowing down in what could be the franchise’s first 100-win season since 1949.
In position to play in the one-game playoff for the second straight year, Boone might have no other choice but to sit Sanchez, who has long held a standing for regularly giving inadequate effort.