ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minutes after slamming his helmet to the Tropicana Field turf after getting thrown out on an uncommon, game-ending 4-6-3 single-out putout, New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez expressed regret for not running hard enough down the first-base line on the slow-developing play.
“I should’ve run harder,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I could’ve done a better job, for sure.”
Sanchez’s groundout capped a 7-6 Yankees loss, their fourth at Tampa Bay this season and their ninth in 13 games at Tropicana Field dating to the start of last year.
New York is 13-13 since June 22. With the loss, it fell six games behind the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox.
Gary Sanchez forgets to hustle Monday, letting a run score in the field and ending the game when he didn’t hustle to first with the bases loaded.
When Sanchez slapped the sharply hit, game-ending grounder up the middle, he hit it directly to Rays second baseman Daniel Robertson, who was playing on the left-field side of the base as part of a shift.
Because the ball was hit so hard (according to Statcast, Sanchez had two of the game’s three hardest-hit balls; this one had a 108.3-mph exit velocity), the Yankees catcher appeared to think the Rays were going to get a rather easy forceout at second base.
“But that didn’t happen,” Sanchez said.
Baserunner Aaron Hicks, who began the play at first while Judge was on third, sprinted hard toward second and slid awkwardly but just ahead of shortstop Willy Adames‘ attempt to touch the bag before him. Upon seeing Hicks called safe, Sanchez tried to speed up as Adames threw to first base to get the final out.
“He’s got to find his gait quickly. And he should be able to do that now,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Sanchez.
Both Boone and Sanchez contend that the catcher is back to full health after resting and rehabbing the groin strain he suffered the last time the Yankees visited Tampa on June 24. Sanchez was hurt trying to beat a ground ball.
Following a nearly four-week stay on the disabled list, he returned to the Yankees’ lineup on Friday. Because he’s fully back, the Yankees don’t believe there is any reason Sanchez should be running slowly to be safe with the once-injured muscle.
“He should be able to get after it. He’s here and back and should be fine getting after things,” Boone said.
Sanchez’s lack of effort didn’t hurt the Yankees only at the end of the game. It cost them near the start of it as well.
“I thought I saw three fingers,” Severino said, believing Sanchez was asking him to throw a slider. “He told me, ‘No, I called one.'”
The catcher was expecting a fastball and had trouble keeping Severino’s pitch in front of him. When it got away, it skipped well up the third-base line. Lost initially, Sanchez seemed to jog over toward the ball, thinking Bauers would try to advance only one base.
But the opportunistic baserunner got aggressive, taking his turn around third. By the time Sanchez picked up his pace toward the baseball, Bauers was going into a headfirst slide at home, well ahead of Sanchez’s throw that ended up hitting him.
“Yeah, that’s another instance there 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. “And that’s my fault.”
Bauers knew that with the Yankees’ frontline starter on the mound, getting a chance at an early run was important.
“Everything was right in front of me right there,” Bauers said. “Once I got to third, I saw that tight window that was there and decided to take a chance.”
Boone said his eyes were locked on Bauers, anticipating him to try for home. Because of that, when he met with reporters just after the game, the manager wasn’t sure what to make of Sanchez’s approach to the ball since he hadn’t had the benefit of a replay. Three times Boone mentioned he needed to see more video on Sanchez after the slower-than-necessary effort both on defense and on the basepath.
“It’s another thing I’ve got to look at,” Boone said.
Until Boone has a chance to assess those plays, it’s unclear if Sanchez will be benched for his play. The catcher is at least hopeful that his next hustle opportunities will go much better.
“This is one of those instances when you learn from it,” Sanchez said. “You put it behind, and you look forward to tomorrow.”