It’s during the biggest moments when some of the weaker links are exposed.
That’s exactly the case for the Yankees, who are searching for answers following two-straight losses to the Astros to fall behind 2-1 in the ALCS.
Tuesday night’s Game 3 further exposed the struggles two key bats in the middle of the order in Gary Sanchez and Edwin Encarnacion — both of whom are muddling through a difficult postseason.
Encarnacion has just one hit in 12 at-bats during the ALCS — a two-out sixth-inning double off Gerrit Cole that gave the Yankees a glimmer of hope before Didi Gregorius’ towering fly ball to left field came a few feet short of giving New York a lead.
His first two at-bats of Game 3 did absolutely nothing to help the Yankees’ cause against the red-hot Cole. He recorded two outs on two pitches as he was unable to make the righty work early in the game.
Cole managed to go seven innings on 112 pitches without yielding a single run.
His struggles are putting extra pressure on the injured Giancarlo Stanton to get back quickly from his strained quad. The star slugger who was limited to just 18 games during the regular season has been out since the ALDS but would be an upgrade at the DH spot over Encarnacion.
Sanchez has been even worse during the ALCS as his meek showing forced manager Aaron Boone to move him further down the lineup for Game 3.
The move did little to help as Sanchez went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Cole before grounding out against Will Harris to end the eighth.
Suspect defense only heaped more ire from the Yankees fan base on Sanchez when a wild pitch got past the catcher, allowing Houston’s third run of the game to score in the seventh inning.
Reliever Zack Britton’s spiked fastball that traveled no more than 45 feet didn’t do Sanchez any favors — especially because it was on the opposite side of where he had originally set up on the plate.
If Sanchez’s bat isn’t working — and it isn’t considering he is now 1-for-13 in the ALCS — he doesn’t bring much to the Yankees.
It’s now presented Boone with the choice of calling upon backup catcher Austin Romine to fill in for a night.
Romine slashed .281/.310/.439 in 72 games during the regular season but has not appeared in a game since Sept. 28.