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Sanchez hits career-high 34th HR, sets record

September 3, 2019

NEW YORK -- Gary Sanchez just can’t stop breaking records. The Yankees’ catcher has joined some elite company in the last two weeks, first becoming the second-fastest player in Major League history to reach 100 career home runs (355 games) on Aug. 23 vs. the Dodgers and then becoming the

NEW YORK -- Gary Sanchez just can’t stop breaking records.

The Yankees’ catcher has joined some elite company in the last two weeks, first becoming the second-fastest player in Major League history to reach 100 career home runs (355 games) on Aug. 23 vs. the Dodgers and then becoming the second-fastest player in Major League history to reach 13 multihomer games (362 games) on Saturday vs. the A’s.

On Tuesday, in New York’s 10-1 win over the Rangers, Sanchez added yet another title to his career profile. The 26-year-old hit a pair of homers -- his 33rd and 34th of 2019 -- to tie and then break the record for the most home runs in a season by a catcher in franchise history.

The guy he beat? Himself.

In 2017, Sanchez hit 33 homers in 122 games, passing a couple of Yankees legends. There are only two other catchers in franchise history who have managed 30 homers in a single season: Jorge Posada in 2003 and Yogi Berra in 1952 and '56.

Sanchez topped that total in only 99 games.

“For me, it’s an honor,” he said. “Understanding all the great catchers that this organization has had over the years, for my name to be next to those guys, it’s an honor. I try to do my job and let those homers come on their own.”

Sanchez's first homer Tuesday came against Texas opener Edison Volquez, spoiling the Rangers’ attempt to escape the first inning unscathed. With two outs and a runner on, Sanchez battled Volquez to a 2-2 count and then fouled off three straight pitches before finding the one he wanted.

Taking a 94.8-mph sinker for a ride into the night sky, Sanchez blasted a two-run homer into Monument Park to give the Yankees an early 2-0 lead, just a day after they were shut out for the first time in 220 games.

The second came during New York’s six-run sixth, as Sanchez went back to back with shortstop Didi Gregorius. The crowd hadn’t even finish cheering for Gregorius’ three-run bomb to right before Sanchez swung on the first pitch he saw and rocked a solo shot to nearly the same spot.

“This is what he’s capable of,” manager Aaron Boone said. “The homer to right, that’s about as good a swing as you’ll see from anyone. That’s as pure as you can hit a ball to where he hit it. This is what he’s capable of. When he’s locked in [and] he’s controlling the zone, he’s as deadly as anyone. It’s good to see him doing that.”

Sanchez’s home run record is all the more impressive considering how much time he has missed this season. The backstop has struggled with staying healthy, spending two stints on the injured list -- two weeks for a left calf strain in April and three weeks for a left groin strain from late July to mid-August.

But since his return on Aug. 10, Sanchez has been finding a groove at the plate, hitting 10 homers with 16 RBIs, which he credited to the attention to detail that he has put into the work he has done with the hitting coaches.

“We want it to stay up the middle, let the ball travel a little more and hit it the other way,” Sanchez said. “I think putting all those things together has given me great results, and I think that I am doing a better job at the plate.”

The way his manager sees it, this is just the beginning for a player who has only scratched the surface of his capabilities.

“Nothing he does will surprise me, and I expect him to keep getting better, too,” Boone said. “There’s a lot more in the tank as far as him continuing to get better and more consistent. Wherever he goes offensively, it won’t surprise me.”