Ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Orioles, Yankees manager Aaron Boone explained his decision to slot Gary Sánchez at the bottom of the lineup for the first time in his Major League career, stating: “We’ve got a potential wrecking machine in the No. 9 hole.”
In Sunday afternoon’s finale at Yankee Stadium, the Yanks saw just how much damage Sánchez could do. The 28-year-old catcher smacked his third career grand slam in the second inning, then added a two-run homer in the sixth to almost singlehandedly carry New York’s offense. But not even his six-RBI and 15th career multihomer game could withstand the state of the club’s overworked bullpen, which lost key contributor Jonathan Loáisiga to the 10-day injured list that morning, in the Yankees’ 8-7 loss to the Orioles in the series rubber match.
After Corey Kluber — in his second start since coming off a three-month-long stint on the injured list — went just 3 2/3 innings but contained the O’s to two runs on four hits and three walks, Boone turned to a bullpen that he admitted before the game was “a little bit thin.”
Though Joely Rodríguez and Wandy Peralta each pitched two-thirds of an inning cleanly, Albert Abreu and Andrew Heaney did not fare as well. Abreu, who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a corresponding move for Loáisiga, allowed a two-run homer to Cedric Mullins in the sixth. Then Heaney, in his second appearance since moving from the rotation to the ‘pen, was charged with four runs on four hits and only managed to secure one out in what was the decisive seventh.
Sánchez’s six-RBI showing tied his career high, which also came against Baltimore on Apr. 7, 2019. It also put him in a tie with Spud Chandler (July 26, 1940) for the second most RBIs out of the No. 9 spot by a Yankees hitter since the stat became official in 1920. Only Joe Girardi (Aug. 23, 1999) and Vic Raschi (Aug. 4, 1953) had more with seven.