Girardi seeks solution for Sanchez's miscues
Run scores on Yankees catcher's 12th passed ball of year
CLEVELAND -- Irked after watching one of the Indians' seven runs score on Gary Sanchez's Major League-leading 12th passed ball of the season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi used his postgame news conference as a platform to challenge his catcher to do a better job of blocking behind the plate.
"He needs to improve. Bottom line. He needs to improve," Girardi said after the Yankees' fourth straight loss, a 7-2 Indians victory at Progressive Field. "He's late getting down. That's what I see sometimes. It's something we've been working on. We need to continue to work on it."
The play occurred in the second inning with Roberto Perez batting. Perez squared to bunt at a Jaime Garcia fastball, which sailed between Sanchez's legs and rolled to the screen as Austin Jackson raced home with Cleveland's second run of the evening.
"Some of those  have been mixups with signs," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "Tonight that was not the case. I think Perez tried to bunt or fake bunt. For a second, I lost it completely. ... I feel good behind the plate, but there's definitely been a couple of situations there where I haven't been able to catch the ball. It has cost us runs."
Garcia permitted six runs (five earned) and five hits in his 4 2/3-inning Yankees debut, which included a wild pitch; Chad Green also uncorked a wild pitch that smacked Sanchez's left wrist and bounded away as the Indians extended their lead to 6-1 in the fifth inning.
"It's the first time he's caught me," Garcia said. "We didn't have any bullpens or even play catch. I tried to have good communication with him. We talked about my stuff and what he does. It's good, man. Sometimes my stuff moves more than other times. I get it. It's tough, his first time, but overall we're good."
Girardi said he feels Sanchez must improve his discipline, and that it is a topic the Yankees have been evaluating and working on all season.
In late June, Girardi lectured Sanchez in the dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago after he failed to block a Masahiro Tanaka splitter; Girardi said at the time that he was not "scolding" Sanchez, but rather instructing the 24-year-old on how to better shift his weight.
"A lot of times it's their stance," Girardi said. "Sometimes it's their rear end sags. Sometimes you just misread a ball. That's usually not the case. Every once in a while you'll get a guy you don't know. Sometimes it's not anticipating. ... It's hard to say. It really is hard to say."
Though designated hitter Matthew Holliday is slumping, producing just 11 hits in 81 at-bats (.136) since returning from the disabled list, Girardi said he has not considered using Sanchez more as a DH to play backup Austin Romine behind the plate.
If Sanchez's defense was talked about last season, it was usually for his strong arm, as he caught 13 of 32 potential basestealers (41 percent) in 36 games while permitting six passed balls.
Sanchez's throwing has been decent this year, nabbing 14 of 39 runners (36 percent), but his 10 errors also lead all American League catchers.
"Blocking is a matter of reacting quickly to the ball," Sanchez said. "I'm not going to be able to block them all, but if I set myself well, I have a good chance of blocking them."