As if the pressure wasn’t already high enough for rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, a teammate of his has now stretched the bounds of credulity.
After being intentionally walked twice in the series finale against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday afternoon, in which he finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a solo-home run, Sanchez etched his name into Yankee lore, becoming the first player in franchise history to hit at least nine home runs in his first 21 career games.
While Sanchez has yet to reach legendary status in the majors, veteran first baseman Mark Teixeira didn’t hesitate to mention the greatest Yankee of all-time in conversation about the 23-year-old.
“Shoot, if Babe Ruth was hitting behind [Sanchez], you’d intentionally walk him,” Teixeira told NJ Advance Media’s Randy Miller. “I mean, he’s as hot as any player I’ve ever played with in my entire career. You just don’t see guys doing what he’s doing. I don’t care how old he is.”
Instead of facing a rookie with two runners in scoring position and no one out in the ninth, Seattle’s solution was to walk the bases loaded, and take their chances with Teixeira, who has hit 10 grand slams in his 14-year career. Luckily for Seattle, their strategy was effective, as Teixeira struck out looking, but the preceding actions sent a clear message.
“I’m hitting .195,” Teixeira said. “Of course, you walk [Sanchez] there. He’s doing things that not many guys can do or have done right now. A hundred times out of a hundred you walk him there with a base open.”
Even with just a three week sample size, Sanchez’s accomplishments in August are already considered more impressive than Alex Rodriguez’s historic MVP season in 2007, according to Teixeira.
“What’s his pace? A hundred home runs?” Teixeira asked. “It’s something crazy. And it’s not like he’s just getting them out. He’s hitting home runs 450 feet. He’s crushing balls. The double down the line was as hard of a hit double as you’ll ever see. This guy is just squaring up balls like I don’t think I’ve ever seen.”
It certainly wasn’t seen this March, as Sanchez struggled mightily in spring training and began the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
“He really struggled, but spring training really doesn’t mean much at all,” Teixeira said to Miller. “Just basing it off of I’ve seen him a few times in spring training, we knew he had talent, but you really didn’t see him. Now he’s putting it together.”
Sanchez’s power surge could possibly be New York’s saving grace, as the Yankees trail the second wild card spot by only five games with 36 games remaining. But if the postseason isn’t in the cards, Sanchez’s hitting display at least makes the Yankees must-see TV.
“He’s making it look easy right now, and it’s not,” Teixeira said. “It’s absolutely not easy at all. We just hope that he keeps doing it because he’s helping carry us right now.”