<
>

Five things we learned Monday: A star is born for the Yankees

Here is Monday's top five ...

1. Just don't call him the Sanch-ize. We've been hearing about Gary Sanchez for years, ever since the Yankees signed him as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 2009. His climb through the minors was a little slow for such a highly regarded prospect, but now that he's in the big leagues, we're seeing why everyone liked him so much. He hit two home runs in the Yankees' 7-5 loss to the Mariners, and that gives him eight in 17 games this season (he also batted twice in two games last year without a home run). He's hitting .385/.429/.831.

It turned out to be a tough loss for the Yankees, however, as they hit four home runs off Mariners starter Cody Martin, only to see Michael Pineda and the bullpen prove unable to hold a 5-3 lead. Pineda left with two runners on in the sixth, but Mike Zunino greeted Anthony Swarzak with a three-run home run to right field (Mariners Triple-A announcer Mike Curto tweeted that he didn't think any of Zunino's 17 home runs for Tacoma went to right field). Zunino, by the way, has been outstanding since his recall and is now hitting .280/.396/.707. Maybe he's starting to live up to his potential.

2. Great catch No. 1. Shawn O'Malley of the Mariners did this:

3. Mark Trumbo is on pace for 50 home runs. Raise your hand if you had "Trumbo hits 50" in your home run pool. Put your hand down. You did not! Trumbo's 38th was a two-run shot off Nationals starter A.J. Cole, who was making his season debut while filling in for Stephen Strasburg, who was placed on the DL on Monday as a precautionary measure for some elbow inflammation. The home run came on an 0-1 fastball on the inside corner. That's a good pitch to some batters, but not to Trumbo, who kills inside pitches:

Trumbo is unlikely to reach the franchise record of 53 home runs, set by Chris Davis in 2013. What's surprising is that this franchise that has long relied on the home run -- going back to the days of Earl Weaver -- has had just seven 40-homer seasons: Davis (53), Brady Anderson (50), Frank Robinson (49), Davis (47), Jim Gentile (46), Rafael Palmeiro (43) and Nelson Cruz (40).

In a postgame interview, Trumbo said his key is that he's missing fewer pitches, but he didn't elaborate on why he's missing fewer pitches. That's not exactly true: His swing-and-miss rate is 31 percent -- right at his career rate of 30.1 percent. He is, however, chasing fewer pitches out of the zone, at 32.0 percent, below his career rate of 36.0 percent. That has seemingly allowed him to zero in on more of those inside pitches that he hammers.

How much is Trumbo's big season a facet of his moving to an easier home run park in a season in which offense has surged? Trumbo's wRC+ entering Monday's game was 119, compared to 124 in 2012 and 108 last season. In other words, Trumbo's season has been well within his normal range of production, even if 50 home runs seems like a shocking total.

4. David Price throws a gem. Here's a question: If the season ended tomorrow and the Red Sox had to play a tiebreaker game against the Blue Jays for the AL East title, do you start Price or Rick Porcello? Price has been looking a little more like the $200 million pitcher the Red Sox signed, and he threw maybe his best game of the season in his return to Tropicana Field, as he allowed just two hits with eight K's in eight scoreless innings. From Meghan O'Donnell of ESPN Stats & Info on how Price won:

  • Rays hitters were 0-for-13 with 5 K's against Price's changeup, as he matched a season high by recording 13 outs with the pitch.

  • Price induced a 50 percent miss rate on pitches across the lower third of the strike zone and below, his second-highest rate this season. Hitters were 1-for-8 with 6 K's on those pitches.

  • Price didn't allow an extra-base hit and allowed just one line drive, tied for his second-fewest this season.

Price's 4.00 ERA is still disappointing, but his peripheral numbers remain strong: 179 K's and 39 walks in 177 2/3 innings. Although the criticism has been warranted to some extent, he hasn't received enough credit for leading the majors in innings (and pitches thrown).

5. Great catch No. 2. Andrew Benintendi of the Red Sox did this, which many on Twitter called the catch of the year:

To wrap things up: I forgot to mention that Adrian Gonzalez hit three home runs as the Dodgers pounded out 18 runs and 21 hits to beat the Reds.