October 7, 2020 | 5:18am
Gary Sanchez’s bid for redemption took a hit on Tuesday.
He was behind the plate as a series of Yankees pitchers failed to shut down Tampa Bay’s lineup, from rookie right-hander Deivi Garcia to veteran lefty J.A. Happ.
There was also a passed ball mixed in that put a runner in scoring position.
Still, all of that could have been forgotten when he came to the plate with the Yankees trailing by three runs in the top of the ninth.
With two on and one out against Peter Fairbanks, Sanchez struck out on three pitches in the Yankees’ 7-5 loss in Game 2 of the ALDS at Petco Park in San Diego.
It came after Sanchez had another chance in the seventh.
After Gleyber Torres and Clint Frazier reached to start the inning against Diego Castillo, Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash went to Nick Anderson to face Sanchez and the right-hander struck out Sanchez to start a dominant inning in which he fanned Sanchez, DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge consecutively.
He ended 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, another disappointing game in a season full of them.
Sanchez watched from the dugout in Game 1 as Kyle Higashioka started again behind the plate with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound. And not only did Higashioka help guide the Yankees to the win with his defense, he also added a homer.
The Yankees still think Sanchez’s defense is underrated and there is no doubt he always has a chance to change a game with one swing, as he did with his two-run opposite field homer against the Indians in Game 2 of the wild-card series, when he also added a key sacrifice fly.
But more often than not this season — when he hit just .147 and had an OPS of .618 — Sanchez has had games like he did Tuesday, when he hit ninth and struck out looking and grounded out to start innings and then whiffed in a spot where he could have altered the outcome.
He will no doubt have other opportunities to impact this series and the rest of the postseason — likely starting on Wednesday with Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, but Sanchez is running out of time to alter the narrative of another subpar season.