Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rays blow lead to Yankees to open final homestand (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — Gary Sanchez has pushed himself into the American League rookie of the year talk despite playing in only his 42nd game Tuesday.

Whether he has played enough to be worthy is a debate for another time. What he has proven in this small sample is that he is a game-changer.

The rookie catcher changed Tuesday's game at Tropicana Field with a three-run homer in the seventh inning off Brad Boxberger for the winning runs in the Yankees' come-from-behind 5-3 win.

What made the moment even more significant is that Boxberger didn't have to pitch to Sanchez.

The Yankees had runners at second and third with two outs. With first base open, Boxberger could have intentionally walked the August AL player of the month and opted to face Billy Butler.

That was the discussion when pitching coach Jim Hickey visited Boxberger before the at-bat.

"(Hickey) said we have an opportunity to either face Sanchez or Butler. The matchup was better against Butler but he left it up to me, and I wanted Sanchez," Boxberger said. "It didn't work out today, but there's always tomorrow."

Boxberger started Sanchez with a slider that caught too much of the plate. Sanchez drove the pitch 437 feet into the left-centerfield stands for a 5-2 lead.

"I just went up there looking for a fastball," Sanchez aid. "It wasn't a fastball. It was a slider, and it was right there, and I was able to put a good swing on it."

Boxberger said he started Sanchez off with the slider because he knew he was sitting on a fastball.

"First-pitch slider against me is probably not in the scouting report too much," Boxberger said. "To be able to do what he did is pretty impressive."

There were contradictions in the postgame retelling of the moment.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said there was never any thought to walking Sanchez to load the bases, because he expected the Yankees to have Brian McCann to hit for Butler. McCann is 0-for-5 lifetime against Boxberger. Butler is 0-for-2. Small samples, for sure, but those were the options.

Boxberger allowed four runs on four hits that inning and undid a solid six-inning start by Drew Smyly, who was in line for his sixth straight win.

Cash said he pulled Smyly after 87 pitches because he felt Smyly did his job and the bullpen was set up to get the remaining nine outs.

The four runs allowed tied Boxberger's career high. He has taken the loss in three of his past four appearances. As it was, he had already given up the lead by the time Sanchez stepped to the plate.

Boxberger said he was "absolutely" confident he would get Sanchez for the final out of the inning.

"I like the matchup, and it's the competitor in me," Boxberger said. "If they wanted me to walk him, 100 percent they would have told me. They left it up to me, and it didn't work out this time."

Rays blow lead to Yankees to open final homestand (w/video) 09/20/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 20, 2016 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Toledo feels like a second season opener for Miami Hurricanes

    Blogs

    LAKE BUENA VISTA - The schedule says Week 4, but it sure doesn't feel that way for the No. 14 Miami Hurricanes.

    The Miami Hurricanes suit up for practice Tuesday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex
  2. HomeTeam 25: Volleyball rankings for Tampa Bay

    Volleyball Preps

    1. Plant (2-0)

    TAMPA - Berkeley Prep senior Isabella Samson looks for an opening against Walton High from Georgia during the championship final on Saturday at the Berkeley Premier tournament. Walton, ranked No. 1 in the country by maxpreps.com, went on to defeat the Bucs 25-16, 25-18. Taken 9-16-17 by Scott Purks
  3. For ex-Rays/now Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the legacy is in the jeans

    Blogs

    Joe Maddon has plenty of memories of his time at the Trop during nine years of managing the Rays. "Too many to count,'' he said.

  4. Study shows playing football before age 12 can lead to mood and behavior issues

    Footballpreps

    A new medical study has found that children who play football before age 12 suffer mood and behavior problems later in life at rates significantly higher than those who take up the sport later.

    Youths who began playing tackle football before the age of 12 had more behavioral and cognitive problems later in life than those who started playing after they turned 12, according to a study released by Boston University researchers on Sept. 19, 2017. [Tamir Kalifa | The New York Times]
  5. Tiki Barber will join his brother, Ronde, on Fox broadcast for Bucs-Giants

    Bucs

    FOX announced Monday night that former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber will have a familiar face joining him as a guest analyst for the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants game in Tampa: his twin brother Tiki, who will join …

    Tiki Barber, right, will join his brother, Ronde, left, as a guest analyst on the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants broadcast on FOX. [Times files (2006)]