Joe Girardi is placing his faith in Gary Sanchez behind the plate for the team’s likely do-or-die AL wild-card game on Tuesday night against the Twins.
“This is my catcher,” said Girardi, who has been critical of Sanchez’s defense — specifically his inability to block pitches in the dirt — this year.
But the manager defended Sanchez, 24, who has an MLB-high 16 passed balls along with 13 errors, prior to Friday’s 4-0 win over the Blue Jays.
In the fifth inning of Thursday’s 9-6 loss to the Rays, Sanchez was charged with a passed ball and an error, both on plays in which runs scored. Tampa Bay ultimately scored seven runs in the frame, turning a 4-1 Yankees lead into an 8-4 deficit.
“No,” Girardi replied when asked about the possibility of going with Austin Romine against Minnesota. “Catchers are going to have bad days. (Gary) got the crap beat out of him yesterday. Everyone wants to focus on the two balls that maybe got by him, but what about the 12 or 14 balls that he did block? He got hit in the neck (by a pitch that bounced), he got hit in the shoulder (by a 95-mph fastball).
“I’ve been asked the question do you catch Romine with Severino on Tuesday? Just by chance, take a look at the ERAs with the catcher and what this kid has done with Severino. This is my catcher. I am happy with the progress that he’s made.”
Sanchez has a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts with Severino. Romine has a 3.29 ERA in nine starts.
Perhaps the biggest advantage Sanchez has behind the plate is his throwing arm. He’s thrown out 38 percent of potential base-stealers, and the Twins are a speedy team. Still, Girardi runs the risk that Sanchez could commit another passed ball in a crucial spot, but the manager appears willing to live with that.
“I’m definitely ready for however the manager wants to use me,” Sanchez said. “Defensively the year hasn’t gone the way I’ve wanted it to, but I…