/Yankees Aaron Boone explains why Gary Sanchez will start in Game 2 of AL Wild Card series

Yankees Aaron Boone explains why Gary Sanchez will start in Game 2 of AL Wild Card series

After starting Kyle Higashioka behind the plate in the Game 1 Wild Card win over the Cleveland Indians (something that’s become the norm for Gerrit Cole starts), Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone has the struggling Gary Sanchez behind the plate for Game 2.

Sanchez, who slashed a miserable .147/.253/.365 in 49 games this season, finds himself hitting ninth in the order as the Yankees look to eliminate the Indians and move forward towards a potential 28th world championship for the franchise.

Speaking to reporters prior to Wednesday’s game, Boone explained why Sanchez is in the lineup, saying that even though the results haven’t been there for the power-hitting backstop, the potential to change the game with one mighty swing still exists.

“Just because I know how capable he is, how talented he is,” Boone said. “Again, I go back to—it’s a little bit like (Brett Gardner) – even though the results weren’t great for Gary, necessarily, down the stretch, I do feel like the last four-to-six weeks, the at-bats have been considerably better and I know the impact that he can have with certainly one swing.

“So hopefully he can provide us something down at the bottom of the lineup and go out there and help lead (Masahiro Tanaka) to a really good start.”

Boone also said that he didn’t really consider starting either Higashioka or the veteran Erik Kratz in Game 2.

“I was pretty convicted last night that I wanted to go with Gary,” said Boone. “I touched briefly with a couple of my coaches about it, but I was pretty set on wanting to go with Gary in this spot.”

Sanchez is surely happy to be in the lineup for Game 2, but he finds himself starting the game in the nine-hole for the first time in his major-league career. He’s had six at-bats as a pinch-hitter in the nine spot during his career, going 1-for-6 with four strikeouts.

But Boone says that Sanchez batting ninth has more to do with the team’s current health and lineup depth than it does about Sanchez’s offensive struggles.

“When we’re healthy and the length of our lineup is at its best, I feel like 5-6-7-8-9 a lot of times are very interchangeable,” Boone said. “And with us obviously being a little right-handed heavy, a lot of the decisions sometimes come down to how I’m going to, for example tonight, split up (Aaron) Hicks and Gardy. I think it’s more a testament to the strength of our lineup and what we’re capable of.”

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