TORONTO -- Gary Sanchez set the bar impossibly high with a historic power surge late in his rookie season, but the Yankees have maintained that it would only be a matter of time before the slugging catcher started to mash the ball again.Sanchez rolled the clock back to late 2016
TORONTO -- Gary Sanchez set the bar impossibly high with a historic power surge late in his rookie season, but the Yankees have maintained that it would only be a matter of time before the slugging catcher started to mash the ball again.
Sanchez rolled the clock back to late 2016 on Thursday evening in the Yankees' 12-2 victory over the Blue Jays, notching the fourth multi-homer game of his career with a pair of early drives off starter Marco Estrada that traveled a combined 874 feet, according to Statcast™.
"I've been working hard with the hitting coaches, because I felt that I was still not at the point where I want to be," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I've seen improvement every day, and every day I feel better and better. I still believe that I can improve my timing."
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With Sanchez entering play batting .263/.358/.411 in 26 games, manager Joe Girardi presciently remarked that he expected Sanchez to break out.
"I think we're probably judging him off of last year. He was not human," Girardi said before the game. "But his numbers really aren't that bad. He's been on base. If you look at the numbers that people like to look at in this day and age, he's been on base, his OPS is good.
"To me, he hasn't caught fire yet. We believe that he's going to, and the numbers will jump."
In the second inning, Sanchez launched a 440-foot solo drive to the second deck in left field, coming off the bat at 113.2 mph. He followed it with a two-run blast in the fourth inning that left his bat at 111.6 mph and was calculated to travel 434 feet, helping to chase Estrada after 3 2/3 innings.
"Those are two big home runs," Girardi said. "To tack one on in the second and then a couple more later on makes it much harder for them to come back, because we know how explosive they are."
Sanchez also took Estrada deep twice last Aug. 16 at Yankee Stadium.
"It's basically what he did last time at their place," Estrada said. "I missed two changeups and he crushed those. I just have to stop missing changeups to him because he can hit them, obviously. When they're down, I get swings and misses, when they're up like that, they get hit a long way."
According to Statcast™, Sanchez joined the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton as the only players this year to have a game with two homers with exit velocities of more than 110 mph and calculated distances of more than 430 feet.
"They're line drives," Girardi said. "They're just line drives that go a long way. I don't think he's overswinging. To be able to stay on a couple of changeups like that after he had been in front the first at-bat, the young man has the ability to make adjustments. He made it and put two good swings on it."
After missing nearly a month with a strained right biceps sustained in an April 8 game at Baltimore, the 24-year-old Sanchez has six home runs this season after jolting the lineup with 20 homers in 53 games last year.
"Anytime you help the team and you bring in runs, it's huge," Sanchez said. "The plan is to keep improving."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.