Gary Sanchez was hopeful his Game 4 home run would be the turning point in his frustrating postseason.
One game later, it only looked like a blip.
Sanchez returned to the bad graces of Yankee Stadium in Game 5 on Friday night, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and scuffling defensively in the Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Astros.
Boo birds came back for Sanchez, who fell to 3-for-28 with 15 strikeouts in these playoffs.
“I’ve been saying this for a while, I feel good,” Sanchez said through an interpreter. “I’m not getting the results I want, but I feel good. The good thing about it is that tonight, we got the victory. That’s the most important thing.”
The first inning was a rough one for Sanchez, both behind the plate and at it. In the top of the frame, after George Springer reached on an infield single (that was not fielded cleanly), he took second on a passed ball by Sanchez. James Paxton’s 95-mph fastball to Jose Altuve was inside, but certainly catchable for Sanchez, who let it fly to the backstop.
Later, with runners on the corners and one out, Sanchez could not block an 83-mph curveball in the dirt as it spiked over his head, allowing Springer to score from third on the wild pitch for the 1-0 Astros lead.
“Definitely had a chance to block it,” Sanchez said. “I didn’t. In a situation like that, when that happens, you got to move away from that quickly. You got to turn the page and focus on the next one, make sure you block the next one.”
In the bottom of the first, with the Stadium still buzzing after Aaron Hicks’ three-run shot had given the Yankees a 4-1 lead, Sanchez walked to the plate and struck out.
Sanchez whiffed again in the fourth and seventh innings, falling further into the funk that could not be cured by Thursday’s two-run home run. That was the first extra-base hit of Sanchez’s postseason, cutting the Yankees’ deficit to 6-3 in the sixth inning after he had come up empty with the bases loaded earlier in Game 4.
But Sanchez did earn praise from Paxton, who recovered from the shaky first to go six strong innings.
“I didn’t do it alone,” Paxton said. “The team was fantastic today behind me playing great defense. And Gary did a great job behind the plate calling the game.”