The Yankees’ new No. 9 hitter nearly put the team on his back with two big swings Sunday.
A leaky bullpen made sure that wasn’t the case, but Gary Sanchez turned in a loud day anyway with two home runs and six RBIs in an 8-7 loss to the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Sanchez had hit just one home run in his previous 23 games before Sunday, hitting .190 during that stretch to set up his drop in the lineup. He had never hit ninth in his career before this series but responded on Sunday with his first multi-home run game since 2019.
The catcher clobbered a 430-foot grand slam in the second inning and then delivered a two-run shot in the sixth.
“I really wanted to attack pitches in the strike zone,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I was ready to attack those pitches and today I was able to connect.”
Sanchez became the fourth Yankee in franchise history to record at least six RBIs from the nine hole, while also matching his career-high.
“I just want to keep the pace going tomorrow,” Sanchez said.
Luis Severino continued to throw from 120 feet Sunday but remains unsure when he will get back on a mound. He is still holding out hope, though, that he has enough time to pitch this season.
“I don’t know,” he said. “The main thing is I feel good, healthy. If I can’t throw this year, I’ll be ready for next year. But myself, I feel confident that I can throw this year.”
Severino has not pitched for the Yankees since the 2019 playoffs. His comeback from 2020 Tommy John surgery has twice been delayed, first by a groin strain in June and then shoulder tightness in August.
If Severino is able to pitch this year, it is increasingly likely it would be as a reliever with just a month left in the regular season.
“I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do,” he said. “At this point, it’s not about me, it’s about the team. So if they do it, throw me in the pen, I will do that.”
Gio Urshela (hand/wrist) remained out of the lineup for the fourth straight game, but pinch hit in the eighth inning and lined out sharply to right field. Manager Aaron Boone expects him to start on Monday against the Blue Jays.
“Felt like just one more day would benefit him,” Boone said.
Giancarlo Stanton turned in a highlight-reel catch in right field in the sixth inning, racing into the gap towards the warning track and diving to rob Anthony Santander of extra bases.