For now, the upstart Yankees rookie continues provide fans with reasons to celebrate — and to believe that a season once deemed lost might, against the odds, end with a wild-card berth — with the latest and possibly most impressive contribution coming Friday night in a 14-4 blowout of the Orioles.
Sanchez, playing in his 20th big league game, drove in four of those runs with three of the Yankees’ 18 hits, finishing a triple shy of the cycle. A two-run home run in the fifth inning was his 10th since his Aug. 2 call-up and gave him 20 RBIs for the month — both of which represent the most by a rookie in his first 20 MLB games since the RBI became an official stat in 1920.
Alex Rodriquez, whose retirement gave way to Sanchez’s fireworks, managed but seven home runs and 19 RBIs all season in 151 more at-bats.
It’s all to say the play of Sanchez and fellow rookies Aaron Judge, Chad Green and Luis Cessa, Friday’s winning pitcher, has reinvigorated the left-for-dead Yankees and their playoff hopes.
In particular, Sanchez is hitting .403/.459/.883 in 77 at-bats to start his career, seemingly out of nowhere. In 313 plate appearances in Triple-A this season, the 23-year-old catcher was hitting .282/.339/.468 with 10 home runs and 50 RBIs. Now he’s thrust himself into an AL Rookie of the Year conversation that formerly started and ended with Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer.
He’ll have to keep up this unprecedented pace to so much as threaten Fulmer, but leading the Yankees from hopeless mediocrity to the postseason would be a decent resume booster.
They were 53-53 and 5 1/2 games out of the playoffs upon Sanchez’s recall. After Friday’s games, the Bombers are 13-8 since and were within 3 1/2 games of Baltimore for the final wild-card spot, albeit trailing four other teams to get there.
It’s becoming more plausible by the day.
Player of the day
Chris Sale brought his Cy Young-caliber stuff Friday, but the White Sox wasted it away again. In a 3-1 defeat to the Mariners, the left-handed ace struck out 14 and issued no walks, but was the hard-luck loser as Chicago’s bats failed to provide run support off Felix Hernandez on the other end. Sale’s three earned runs were scattered in the second, third and fourth innings, and he settled in from there for the complete game. The White Sox are 0-2 this season when Sale has 14 strikeouts and no walks.
Bartolo Colon, the ageless wonder for the Mets, snapped out of an 0-for-20 skid at the plate with a second-inning double, the fourth of his 19-year career and second this season. He also singled in the game, giving the 43-year-old his first multi-hit performance in 14 years — when he played for the Expos.
Oh, yeah, Colon also took a no-hitter into the fifth inning to help the Mets stave off the Phillies 9-4 and keep pace in the NL wild-card race.
Three things to know
— Albert Pujols hit his 25th home run of the season in a 4-2 loss to the Tigers, marking the 13th consecutive season in which he’s had at least 25 homers and 100 RBIs. That ties Alex Rodriguez for most all time.
— David Ortiz’s only hit in Boston’s 6-3 loss to the Royals was a ground-rule double, the 625th of his career. He passed Hank Aaron for 10th on the all-time list.
— Rangers closer Jeremy Jeffress was arrested and charged with DWI early Friday in Dallas and was not with the team for Friday night’s 12-1 loss to the Indians.
Cubs (81-45) at Dodgers (71-56), 4:05 p.m. ET — Comfortably entrenched in the playoff picture, Chicago can test the waters a bit with a Los Angeles team it may well see again in October. Jason Hammel (13-6, 3.07 ERA) takes the mound for the Cubs for the first time since a 10-run blowup last week that ended his streak of 20 scoreless innings in August. Across the way, rookie Julio Urias (4-2, 3.95) gets a turn in the Dodgers’ makeshift rotation.
Royals (67-61) at Red Sox (71-57), 7:10 p.m. ET — Kansas City is chasing everyone in a tight AL wild-card race, including Boston, which lost a game in its cushion over the surging defending World Series champs with Friday’s loss. Red Sox starter David Price (12-8, 4.00) is riding a three-start win streak for the first time since late May, around the same time Royals lefty Danny Duffy (11-1, 2.66), his counterpart, last took a loss.