The Yankees always knew they had a chance. Get a couple guys on, get a pitch they could handle, and eight innings in which the offense couldn't get going would be largely forgotten.
Just like that.
It didn't matter that the Yankees had no hits in the first five innings Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, or that they still had just three hits entering the ninth. All that mattered was that Gary Sanchez came to the plate against Twins closer Fernando Rodney and rocketed a three-run walk-off home run into the left-field seats, giving the Yanks a 4-3 win and extending a six-game winning streak.
"If we can get traffic on the bases, we're always one swing away from our guys," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The Yankees got that traffic when Didi Gregorius reached on an error to begin the ninth and Giancarlo Stanton followed with an infield hit. That brought up Sanchez, who was hitting .193 this season but already had five home runs.
"He had a real confident look up there," Boone said.
Sanchez was hitless on the day, but he had learned something from his first three plate appearances.
"I noticed through the game they were pitching me inside," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "I know Fernando Rodney is a good pitcher and he throws hard, but I was looking for a pitch I could hit."
Rodney indeed throws hard, and he tried to pitch Sanchez inside. The 96.5-mph fastball was the fastest pitch any Yankee has hit for a home run this season, according to Statcast™. It was the second time in his career Sanchez has homered on a pitch at least that fast, the other being a 99-mph Joe Kelly fastball last August.
The home run off Kelly tied a game the Yankees would go on to lose. This one finished off a four-game Yankees sweep of the Twins and earned Sanchez the Gatorade shower that goes to the game's star.
"I knew something was coming," Sanchez said of the shower. "I can just tell you it was cold."