SAN FRANCISCO -- Gary Sánchez knew that his first career grand slam was gone, flipping his bat and shouting toward the Yankees’ bench. So did Derek Holland, who hung his head at the front of the pitcher’s mound. The only question was how far the ball would go.
Sanchez's fifth-inning drive Saturday afternoon was calculated to have traveled 467 feet, making it the longest grand slam ever tracked by Statcast (since 2015). The titanic blast to Oracle Park's left-field seats powered a five-run inning for the Yankees, who held on for a 6-4 victory over the Giants, marking New York’s 10th win in its last 12 games.
“When you get a chance to bring in four runs, I’ll take it,” Sanchez said through a translator. “The past couple of games I’ve had, I’ve been off at the plate. When you’re able to connect like that, you’re going to feel happy and you’re going to show some emotions. That’s what happened there. I was excited.”
Sanchez’s seventh homer of the season was the Yankees' longest home run of 2019 and the fourth-longest hit in the Majors this season. Manager Aaron Boone said he had to excuse himself down the dugout tunnel to celebrate the blow.
“That’s one that sucks the life out of the building,” Boone said. “It gets you. I had to walk down the steps a little and let out a yell. That fires you up, when you see one of our dudes really step on one. I enjoy that.”
The grand slam followed a run-scoring hit-by-pitch of Luke Voit, who extended his on-base streak to a career-high 38 games -- the highest current total in the Majors -- when a Holland offering brushed his right knee. Sanchez had been hitless in nine at-bats with two walks and seven strikeouts since coming off the injured list Wednesday.
“I was at third base and I felt like he was going to maybe hit one foul through my chest,” said J.A. Happ, who had reached base on a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning. “He ended up hitting it about 110 [mph] into the glove out there. That was incredible. I've seen him do that before. That's a good sign for us.”
So was Happ’s excellent performance on the pitching side, scattering five hits over seven scoreless innings to pick up his first victory of the season.
The left-hander has settled in after a shaky beginning, shifting his repertoire to a heavier arrangement of sinkers, sliders and changeups, eschewing a four-seam fastball that had proven to be less than reliable. Happ walked none and struck out two in the 95-pitch effort.
“Over time, we know we’re going to get a lot of good starts from him,” Boone said. “This is three [starts] in a row where he is starting to build momentum. He’s done it a little different each and every time, which is good to see, but you can see the confidence starting to build as well.”
Happ lauded his defense, particularly DJ LeMahieu's diving stop that stole a Brandon Belt single in the third inning and Voit's over-the-shoulder grab of a Kevin Pillar popup in the sixth.
"With the plays that we were making, I was confident to try and get the ball on the ground and in play," Happ said.
Sanchez narrowly missed another homer with a deep drive to center field in the seventh inning, and the Yankees appeared to be coasting to victory.
"Definitely, the last two at-bats I felt more confident," Sanchez said. "That’s what you want. Now we have to try to keep that consistency going."
Gio Urshela doubled twice in a three-hit performance and LeMahieu also had a run-scoring hit. Luis Cessa worked a perfect eighth inning but stumbled in the ninth, giving up a three-run homer to Yangervis Solarte and a pinch-hit solo shot to Erik Kratz.
Boone summoned closer Aroldis Chapman, who struck out Pablo Sandoval to tally his fifth save of the season. The Yankees have won both series so far on this West Coast trip, having taken three of four games from the Angels earlier in the week, and Happ said the team had a brief closed-door chat after this most recent win. The message: Keep it going.
"One thing that I felt is, we're coming to the field and we're focused and confident when it's game time," Happ said. "When you combine those two things, that's a good recipe. It makes for cleaner games. I think you've noticed when we have clean games, we've come out on top for the most part. We've been focused and we're gaining more confidence as we go. It's fun."