Gary Sánchez unleashed a quick swing and stood briefly by home plate, watching the ball fly.
The result? The longest home run hit by a Twin this season, and one of the longest ever at Yankee Stadium.
In his return to New York to face the team that signed him as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic that he played for from 2015-21, Sánchez hit a game-tying, 473-foot two-run home run in the Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Yankees on Monday afternoon in the Bronx.
“(It’s) really exciting to be back to play against the team that gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues,” Sánchez said. “It felt good that I hit it at the moment that I did because we tied the game.”
It was a homecoming for both Sánchez and Gio Urshela, who came over in a post-lockout March deal for infielders Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa as well as catcher Ben Rortvedt. The Yankees played a tribute video for the duo and both received a warm reception from the crowd — until Sánchez hit the home run and was then greeted by a smattering of boos in his subsequent trips to the plate.
“That was one of the furthest home runs I think I’ve ever seen hit here and I’ve been in this ballpark a fair amount,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “That’s what Gary Sánchez is capable of.”
Urshela, who finished the day 0-for-3 with a walk, had a shorter tenure in New York, playing for the Yankees from 2019-21. He called the Yankees’ postseason runs his favorite memories in the Bronx and said he still communicates regularly with Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres, talking to him every day, though mostly about non-baseball topics.
“I’m happy to be back here,” Urshela said. “There’s a lot of memories in this stadium.”
The Twins’ rotation plans for the rest of the series remain in flux with Tyler Mahle (shoulder) now on the injured list and Sonny Gray yet to test out his right hamstring, which forced him out of Friday’s game early.
Gray, who was originally supposed to pitch Wednesday with Mahle going on Thursday, will now throw a bullpen on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium and will be scheduled to start the series finale in New York should all go well with his bullpen.
That leaves the Twins in need of a starter for Wednesday. They have yet to announce their plans for that game.
Max Kepler was scratched from lineup on Monday with what the Twins called hip tightness. Kepler did appear in the game off the bench, striking out looking to end the game. Had he gotten on base, Baldelli said they would have utilized someone to pinch run for him.
Baldelli said Kepler had banged into the outfield wall in Chicago and Kepler’s lower body “tightened up a little bit on him.”
“It’s not like he’s dealing with a true injury right now. He’s not injured. He’s dealing with something. This happens all the time in our game,” Baldelli said. “ … We just want to get through today and tomorrow and kind of see where we’re at.”