BOSTON -- Gary Sanchez took a first-pitch slider for a ball and stepped out of the batter's box. He fouled off the next pitch, a 96-mph fastball, then he backed away a second time. Yet again, Sanchez stepped forward, fouled off a slider and stepped back out, and by that point Ryan Brasier had seen enough. The Red Sox reliever lifted his hands to the sky, exasperated, and yelled at Sanchez to move back into the box.
In a calmer mood later Saturday night, Brasier shrugged when asked if his emotion helped him whiff Sanchez in the fifth inning of the Red Sox's 6-2 loss to the Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park. Whether coincidental or not, the correlation was easy to see: Brasier's next pitch crackled past Sanchez's bat at 97 mph, his fastest of the evening.
"I just think three pitches in a row, with adrenaline going and stuff, I was ready to make my pitch," Brasier said. "He stepped out of the box three times in a row, and I just felt like it was time to do it regardless of whether he was ready or not."
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Throughout Game 2, Sanchez was ready to hit, going 2-for-5 with two home runs and four RBIs, including a three-run shot off Eduardo Rodriguez to put the game on ice. But his timeline did not match that of Brasier, who worked quickly upon entering in the fifth. One night after allowing a hit, a walk and two inherited runs in his postseason debut in Game 1, Brasier jogged in from the bullpen hoping to keep a two-run deficit from growing.
He struck out the first batter he faced, Andrew McCutchen, but an Eduardo Nunez fielding error and a Luke Voit walk thrust Brasier into a jam. The right-hander responded with a strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton, bringing Sanchez to the plate.
Already with one home run on the night, Sanchez stepped to the plate knowing he could "produce the same way I produced last year" as a 33-homer phenom. By that point, the crowd was roaring, trying to will Brasier out of the inning, but Sanchez said he kept stepping out because his "hands were a little numb from a foul ball."
"I saw he mentioned something to get back in the box," Sanchez told ESPN, "but you know things like that will happen in a game so no big deal."
Brasier equally downplayed the incident.
"Adrenaline going, the crowd was up, and I was ready to go," he said. "That's it. It was just one of those things, just a big moment, and I was just ready to throw the pitch."