SAN FRANCISCO (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York’s “no-name offense” hasn’t just kept the Yankees afloat in the AL East, they’ve been thriving on a diet of base hits and small ball.
Some might say the team’s had a better approach to hitting since New York’s sluggers all went down with injuries. On Saturday, one of those sluggers reminded Yankee fans about what they’ve been missing.
Gary Sánchez spent the past few days tinkering at the plate trying to get his swing right after spending nearly two weeks recovering from a strained left calf. When he connected for one of the longest home runs of his career, Sánchez smacked his hands together emphatically, confident that he’s getting close.
Sánchez hit his first career grand slam in a five-run fifth inning for his first hit since coming off the injured list, and New York beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4 on Saturday for its 10th win in 12 games.
“The past couple games I’ve had, I’ve been off at the plate,” Sanchez said through a translator. “When you’re able to connect like that, you’re going to feel happy and show some emotions.”
Sánchez had been 0-for-9 with seven strikeouts since returning Wednesday. His batting average down to .220, he crushed a high sinker from Derek Holland (1-4). The ball left the bat 111 mph and traveled an impressive 467 feet deep into the left center field seats, nearly clearing the bleachers and giving New York a 6-0 lead.
“That’s one that kind of sucks the life out of the building,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I have to walk down the steps and let out a yell because that fires you up, when you see one of our dudes really step on one. I enjoy that.”
Happ scored on Sánchez’s home run after reaching base when he bunted into a forceout.
“I was at third base and I felt like he was going to maybe hit one foul through my chest at about 110 mph,” Happ said.
Happ (1-2) had his best outing this season, allowing five hits in seven scoreless innings and mixing 37 changeups with 38 fastballs among 95 pitches. He ended a streak of seven straight starts in which he allowed a home run.
New York, despite 13 players on the injured list, improved to 5-1 on a nine-game trip and at 16-11 moved a season-high five games over .500.
Sánchez’s slam was a sign that healthy help is finally on the way.
“When you get a chance to bring in four runs, it could be just 300 feet and I’ll take it,” Sánchez said. “The last two swings I felt more confident. That’s what you want. Now we have to try to keep that consistency going.”
Gio Urshela doubled twice and had three hits, and Cameron Maybin singled and scored in his second game with the Yankees. Luke Voit was hit by a pitch to extend his on-base streak to 38 games for the Yankees, the longest active streak in the majors.
DJ LeMahieu hit an RBI single in the third, and Voit was nicked on the right knee by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth.
One negative on the day was Luis Cessa’s ninth inning meltdown; giving up a three-run homer to Yangervis Solarte and a solo shot to Erik Kratz before being removed. Closer Aroldis Chapman came in to strike out Pablo Sandoval on a checked swing for his fifth save in six chances.
Voit’s streak of reaching base with a hit or walk is now the second-longest by a Yankees player since 2005. Three-time All-Star Mark Teixeira had a 42-game streak from June 6 to July 26, 2010.
San Francisco left fielder Tyler Austin made a stellar throw in the eighth inning to get Gleyber Torres trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple. The ball sailed over Austin and ricocheted off the wall before Austin made a perfect throw to third baseman Evan Longoria. The Giants lead the majors with 10 outfield assists.
Yankees OF Clint Frazier (left ankle sprain) played catch on the field before the game. Manager Aaron Boone thinks Frazier could return within two weeks.
CF Aaron Hicks (back strain) could face live pitching in the batting cage next week.
Miguel Andújar (torn labrum in right shoulder) went 3-for-3 as a designated hitter in extended spring training. Andújar will have Sunday off then play third base in another extended spring training game Monday.
Yankees RHP Domingo Germán (4-1, 1.75 ERA) faces the Giants for the first time in his career in the series finale Sunday. Germán already has more wins than he did over the previous two seasons combined. LHP Dereck Rodriguez (3-2) pitches for San Francisco in his second interleague start.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)