NEW YORK — Gary Sanchez did that A-Rod home run thing. Just like Alex Rodriguez used to do at the height of his powers when he would slam a big home run, Sanchez, upon sending a second David Price delivery high, far and gone Thursday, took a little peak into the home dugout.
Sanchez said he didn’t even realize he did it, and while it had less showmanship than A-Rod’s old celebration of self, it looked like a knowing glance.
Sanchez owns Price.
In seven career at-bats, Sanchez has four hits, all of them homers. On Thursday, Sanchez pushed Price a little more toward being Boston’s version of Ed Whitson, just, unenviably, in the social age.
Sanchez went deep twice off Price, putting the Red Sox left-hander further in the crosshairs of the Boston media. On the second shot, a fifth-inning two-run long ball to right, Sanchez gave the little glance into the home dugout.
“He is starting to feel it a little bit now, so I’m excited about the next couple of games,” Aaron Judge said after the Yankees’ 9-1 win over the Red Sox, which put them three games up in the AL East.
Sanchez is starting to hit multiple pitches hard, as fastballs, changeups, curveballs, you-name-it, aren’t fooling him at the moment.
Meanwhile, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is budding again with new storylines developing in what could be another classic era. Sanchez’s ownership of Price is emerging as one to watch. Price is going to have to figure out how to get Sanchez out if he is going to have any future success against the Yankees. When facing Price, Sanchez looks like his idol, Manny Ramirez.
“He can follow his career as far as production,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the Sanchez-Ramirez comparison.
Sanchez admired his home runs, like Ramirez used to. Wearing Manny’s old number, 24, Sanchez took his time getting out of the box, something that may not have been lost on Price.
Sanchez enjoys seeing Price on the mound as much as Red Sox fans seem to dislike it. Sanchez had been 1 for his last 19 vs. the Red Sox, the only hit being a homer off Price late last September.
There is nothing extra special about facing Price, Sanchez said, but Sanchez may have had a little something to prove. This week, Girardi dropped him from second to sixth in order to take advantage of Aaron Hicks’ higher on-base percentage.
Girardi told the media and Sanchez, in a private conversation, that it wasn’t a demotion. In reality, it was, but only a slight one. Sanchez, though, seemed not impacted. He is hitting .256 with eight homers and 21 RBIs with an .814 OPS in 32 games. Those are very respectable numbers for a catcher.
However, Sanchez was Judge last year. Not as big literally or figuratively as the right fielder Sanchez calls “The Animal,” but still the talk of baseball, hitting home runs at a record pace, exciting the fan base. There was no Sanchez Spot designated at Yankee Stadium, like there is with Judge’s Chambers, but Sanchez received his fair share of publicity.
This year, he has gotten his fair share of blame. Some who follow the Yankees have blamed him for Masahiro Tanaka’s woes and have hinted that the Yankees might be better with Austin Romine behind the plate more often.
Romine is a good player who might be able to start somewhere else in the majors, but Sanchez can take over a game, as he did it again on Thursday. He is putting his imprint on this revived Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. It is pretty good bet that Price doesn’t want to see him anytime soon.