ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey bounced out of the dugout in the seventh inning on Tuesday and hustled to the mound to have a quick word with reliever Brad Boxberger.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Hickey asked Boxberger what he wanted to do: pitch to Gary Sanchez, the rookie slugger who has been terrorizing pitchers since the Yankees brought him up from the minor leagues in early August, or walk him and face the next hitter, the recently acquired Billy Butler, who had already doubled twice.
“I wanted Sanchez,” Boxberger said.
It did not take long for the Rays to have their regrets. Boxberger’s first pitch, a slider, hung tantalizingly over the middle of the plate, and Sanchez did what he is doing with just about every pitch these days — he crushed it.
Sanchez’s three-run homer to deep left-center field fueled a 5-3 comeback victory that the Yankees…