Injured Sluggers Return: Gary Sanchez and Yoenis Cespedes

By: Russell Stern

Ailing sluggers Gary Sanchez and Yoenis Cespedes returned to their respective lineups Friday night, as the Bronx Bombers faced off against the New York Mets before a sold out crowd at Yankee Stadium. However, while Cespedes powered the Mets to a 7 to 5 victory over the Yankees, Sanchez fizzled at the plate, leaving several runners on base in key situations.

Cespedes, who was on the disabled list for 57 days with a hip and quadriceps injury, came into Friday’s game batting .255 with 8 home runs and 28 runs batted in. Normally a left-fielder, Cespedes was instead used as a designated hitter to avoid aggravating his injury. Sanchez missed 25 days because of a right groin strain but was healthy enough to catch the entire game for the Yankees. Prior to his injury, he was struggling with a .190 batting average, 14 home runs, and 41 RBI’s.

The time off seemed to only benefit Cespedes, who appeared rejuvenated and boosted the Mets’ weak offense.

Cespedes went 2 for 4 with a walk, shooting a single into right field and smacking a home run off the Yankee rookie right-handed starting pitcher, Domingo Germán.

After the game, Cespedes said he felt well and that his timing was good, according to the Daily News.

Sanchez’s performance, on the other hand, was a different story. Out of the 14 runners the Yankees left on base, he stranded six. Sanchez went 1 for 5, stroking a meaningless single while striking out swinging two times, softly grounding out to short, and lazily popping out to second. He failed to capitalize on various opportunities the Yankees had throughout the game.

After the game, Sanchez said to a reporter through an interpreter, “Definitely don’t feel good about it. Had opportunities to help my team and I didn’t help my team tonight. I’ve got to put that aside and move toward tomorrow and hopefully find myself in a situation where I’m able to do my job tomorrow.” He said that he hopes he will be able to perform well against Mets’ pitcher Steven Matz on Saturday.

Friday’s game was the 16th Yankee home sellout of the 2018 season, hosting a crowd of 47,175 people. This Subway Series game was of particular interest to New York baseball fans because Mets’ fireballing starting pitcher, Noah Syndergaard, was making his Yankee Stadium debut. Syndergaard, whose average fastball velocity hovers around 97.9 miles per hour, also recently returned from an injury to his right index finger.

Despite not pitching at his best, Syndergaard still pitched effectively, giving up only one run on eight hits and striking out four. He didn’t walk any batters, and mostly threw strikes.

In contrast, Germán had a difficult outing. In only 3.2 innings, he allowed four earned runs on five hits. Although he struck out three batters, he also walked two.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone commented on the young starter’s performance at a post-game press conference. “You could tell he was really struggling to find that fastball command, and if you don’t have that, you know, you’re going to be in trouble,” he said.

Boone added, however, that Germán showed potential and could develop to be a very good pitcher. He had several excellent starts with the Yankees but struggled in recent outings. On account of this, the Yankees sent him down to the minor leagues shortly after the game.

The Yankees continue their homestand against the Mets on Saturday afternoon with their right-handed pitcher Sonny Gray facing off against Steven Matz. The series concludes on Sunday with Masahiro Tanaka pitching against Mets’ ace Jacob DeGrom.

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