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Former Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez had himself a killer Opening Day weekend in his debut with the Twins.
Sanchez hit his first regular-season home run for his new club in Sunday’s 10-4 win over the Mariners, drilling a grand slam into the third deck in left field in the bottom of the first inning.
The catcher flipped his bat and gave a thumbs-up to the dugout, before rounding the bases at Target Field to the sound of screaming fans welcoming him to Minnesota.
Sanchez’s grand slam gave the Twins a five-run lead at the time. The 29-year-old later added an RBI double, driving in five of the Twins’ 10 runs in his second game with the team. Sanchez made the final out Friday on Opening Day, coming within inches of a walk-off home run.
After signing Sanchez as an international free agent in 2009, the Yankees traded the two-time All-Star and third baseman Gio Urshela last month for third baseman Josh Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt.
“With a swing like [that,] it gives you the confidence to be able to go out and do everything,” manager Rocco Baldelli said about Sanchez’s grand slam. “Our pitchers, our guys in the field, the at-bats that follow that, that’s the kind of changes the game in a huge way and something we needed. It was a huge moment for Gary and all of us.”
After many ups and downs, especially behind the plate, the Yankees decided to move on from Sanchez and prioritize defense at catcher. Last season, Sanchez had 23 home runs, 54 RBIs, a .204 batting average and .730 OPS while committing six errors and allowing eight passed balls. He has 60 passed balls in his career, having led the league in 2017 (16) and 2018 (18).
Sunday’s win was the Twins’ first of the season. They close out a four-game set with the Mariners Monday night.