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Sanchez fastest to 19 career HRs: 45 games

Yankees' rookie sensation goes deep twice, homering in his fourth straight game
MLB.com @BryanHoch

ST. PETERSBURG -- If this were a video game, the opponents would be certain that Gary Sanchez had snuck in a cheat code to make every pitch look like a grapefruit down the center of home plate.

This is real life, though, and the best pitchers in the world still have yet to find a consistent way to get Sanchez out. The 23-year-old rookie homered twice and drove in five runs on Wednesday, leading the Yankees to an 11-5 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- If this were a video game, the opponents would be certain that Gary Sanchez had snuck in a cheat code to make every pitch look like a grapefruit down the center of home plate.

This is real life, though, and the best pitchers in the world still have yet to find a consistent way to get Sanchez out. The 23-year-old rookie homered twice and drove in five runs on Wednesday, leading the Yankees to an 11-5 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Full Game Coverage

"I've never seen anything like it," designated hitter Brian McCann said. "What he's doing is so impressive. His swing, he doesn't have any holes. When he's seeing the ball and he's laying off certain pitches, he's extremely dangerous."

8 facts about Sanchez's mind-bending season

Going deep for the fourth consecutive game, Sanchez became the quickest player in big league history to hit 19 home runs, doing so in his 45th game. Wally Berger of the 1930 Boston Braves owned the previous record, having done so in his 51st game. It was Sanchez's third career multihomer game.

Video: Sanchez powers Yanks with HRs in four straight games

"It's great when you achieve something like that," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "What makes it better is that you're helping the team win."

Sanchez's at-bats have become must-see entertainment up and down the Yankees' bench, and not just for the balls that clear the outfield wall. He has impressed with a quiet approach at the plate, including pitch recognition that his teammates already rate among the best on the roster.

"I heard someone say, 'It's not a surprise anymore,' kind of joking around," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I haven't seen anything like this, the start of a career like this."

Tweet from @ktsharp: Gary Sanchez HR per at-bat rate in 2016: 1 every 8.7 ABBabe Ruth HR per at-bat rate in 1927: 1 every 9.0 AB

Even the Rays have been impressed. Manager Kevin Cash said that he and first baseman Logan Morrison spent part of Wednesday's game chatting on the bench, trying to figure out if they'd seen anyone make such a splash on the big league level. They're still trying to come up with a name.

"We've seen him quite a bit here the last couple of weeks, and what a talented player," Cash said. "Offensively, defensively. We saw in New York as strong an arm as I've ever seen from a catcher. And then, offensively, just has a very, very good approach at the plate and a ton of power."

Sanchez's first at-bat was a solid piece of hitting, grounding a low Alex Cobb pitch up the middle for a run-scoring hit.

Video: NYY@TB: Sanchez opens the scoring with an RBI single

In the second inning, Cobb elected to pitch to Sanchez with first base open, something the Rays also tried in Tuesday's 5-3 Yankees win. The result was the same, as Sanchez crushed a long three-run homer, this one measured by Statcast™ to have an exit velocity of 111.4 mph.

Sanchez's second homer, a solo sixth-inning blast off reliever Justin Marks, had an exit velocity of 100 mph and traveled a projected 402 feet over the left-center-field wall.

"I feel good," Sanchez said. "I'm putting good swings on the ball right now."

Video: NYY@TB: Sanchez discusses two-homer game, WC push

One wonders where the Yankees might be, had Sanchez been able to grab the backup catching job this spring. Sanchez was 2-for-22 before being demoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but his performance since being called up on Aug. 3 suggests that he has taken his last Minor League bus ride.

"Everyone already knew he belonged, it was just a matter of him getting an opportunity," McCann said. "So for him to go to Triple-A, do the things he did, he's carried on up here and he's going to be catching for a long, long time in this league. It's fun to watch."

Video: Sanchez blasts 19 home runs in 45 games

Sanchez's incredible run promises to create a dilemma for voters when they consider the identity of the American League's Rookie of the Year -- though, if he keeps this up through the last 11 games of the regular season, maybe it won't be such a tough call after all.

"I think you've got to think about it, you really do," Girardi said. "I know people are going to argue he's only been here two months, but his two months have been as good as it gets."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

 

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez