Gary Sanchez shines, Joe Girardi confounds in a Yankees loss

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Over the weekend I saw a Yankees writer compare Yankees rookies Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez to the “Core Four” Yankees, Jeter/Rivera/Posada/Pettitte. That’s totally reasonable for a couple of guys who have played fewer than 30 games combined. Nope, no one in New York overhypes anything.

Still, hard not to notice that they’re off to nice starts. Particularly Sanchez. The Yankees new catcher is hotter than all get-out to start his major league career, batting .385/.429/.831 with eight homers and 15 RBI in his first 17 games. Last night against the Mariners he hit two bombs. Earlier in the day he was named the American League Player of the Week. That’s pretty darn spiffy. Judge is not slouching either, going eight for his first 33 with a couple of homers.

Despite their early career heroics, the Yankees still have to be confounding their fans a bit. Last night’s game was a study in frustration to be sure. Sanchez’s second homer made it 4-3 Yankees in the sixth inning and Starlin Castro‘s second dinger two batters later made it 5-3. Michael Pineda ran into trouble in the bottom half of the inning, putting two runners on. Still, the Yankees had the lead and, still, it was a winnable game for a team that is at least nominally in the Wild Card race and which Joe Girardi said is “trying to win games.”

So what does Girardi do? After having Tommy Layne pitch to one guy, he calls on Anthony Swarzak to get out of the jam. The same Anthony Swarzak who has the worst ERA in the Yankees bullpen. The same Swarzak who played a big part in blowing a 6-0 lead to Toronto last week. A mop-up guy who can’t even mop up. Why is Joe Girardi using him in that critical spot if the Yankees are trying to win games? Beats the heck out of me. As it was, Swarzak promptly gave up a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, Michael Zunino. The M’s won the game 7-5.

It’s fun to watch young rookies come up to the show and succeed. It’s a real drag to see your bullpen blow leads that your young rookies help give you. What a weird season in New York.