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Sánchez's HR extends Yanks' record streak

Late rally comes up short after Montgomery struggles
@BryanHoch
August 6, 2020

Gary Sánchez showed signs of snapping his early-season skid, helping the Yankees extend their season-opening franchise record by homering in a 12th consecutive game, but their late surge stalled in a 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday evening at Citizens Bank Park. Sánchez launched a two-run homer in the

Gary Sánchez showed signs of snapping his early-season skid, helping the Yankees extend their season-opening franchise record by homering in a 12th consecutive game, but their late surge stalled in a 5-4 loss to the Phillies on Thursday evening at Citizens Bank Park.

Sánchez launched a two-run homer in the seventh inning off Nick Pivetta, marking the catcher’s third hit in 30 at-bats. The Yankees have mashed 24 homers through their first dozen games, with 45 of the club’s 65 runs thus far being scored via the long ball.

Box score

“I definitely think I was due, noting how things were going for me,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “It was my time to put a good hit on the ball, [because] they've been getting me out.”

Longest team HR streaks to start a season

Sánchez credited long hours with hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere for helping his approach. Manager Aaron Boone said he is encouraged that Sánchez appears to be turning the corner after a rough opening to his year, pointing to Sánchez’s career track record of home run power.

“He’s certainly not where he wants to be or where he needs to be,” Boone said. “But hopefully he's starting to make those baby steps to get back into being the presence we know he is. I'm really excited about the [defensive] work he's doing behind the plate and the fact that he's been able to separate the two.”

Though they trailed all evening, the Yanks threatened in the ninth inning against closer Héctor Neris, moving the potential tying run into scoring position.

DJ LeMahieu delivered a pinch-hit single and Mike Tauchman continued to stake his claim for increased playing time with a clean single to left field, but Neris recovered to get Luke Voit to fly out to deep center field.

“It seemed like we were just kind of chasing that one hit all day,” Tauchman said. “I think that's the mark of our team, we always battle. Today was an example of that, yesterday was an example of that. So we’ve just got to keep battling. We’ve got a game tomorrow, so we'll battle again.”

With LeMahieu and Aaron Judge out of the lineup for rest, Tauchman contributed a two-run single in the second inning off starter Zach Eflin, who held New York to a pair of unearned runs over four innings in his season debut.

Yanks left-hander Jordan Montgomery struggled in his second start of the season, charged with five runs on six hits through four innings. Montgomery seemed able to get ahead of hitters but had difficulty completing at-bats, which Boone attributed to inconsistency with his changeup.

“We were battling out there tonight,” Sánchez said. “I think it was just a couple pitches that were left in the zone. They were able to take advantage of those.”

J.T. Realmuto cracked a three-run homer in the first inning, and Phil Gosselin stroked a two-run double in the third off Montgomery, who tossed 95 pitches (63 for strikes).

“The changeup is a little inconsistent,” Montgomery said. “I think it was my best pitch, for sure. My curveball wasn't there. I hung one to Realmuto that really hurt me, and that kind of set the tone for the game. I either had a really good inning or a really bad inning, so I have a lot to take away from the good innings.”

David Hale and Jonathan Holder combined for four innings of scoreless relief, but the Yankees have not garnered much length from the members of their starting rotation. New York starters have pitched to a 5.44 ERA in 46 1/3 innings, and that balloons to a 7.22 ERA in 28 2/3 innings if you take away Gerrit Cole’s three starts.

Cole and Montgomery are the only starters to complete five innings through the Yanks’ first 12 games, a trend that may continue with Masahiro Tanaka limited to about 65 pitches in Friday’s series opener against the Rays.

“The way our roster is constructed, it does allow us to have a couple more arms in the bullpen,” Boone said. “Nothing beats several outings from your starters that give you length to really kind of preserve and set everyone up down there in that ‘pen. Over the long haul, we’ve got to do a little bit better job of that.”

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.