Who among the healthy can carry these Yankees? The list has narrowed, arguably, to three.
Hence the Yankees sounded oh so thankful Thursday afternoon, with their young season badly requiring a reboot, that one of their trustworthy trio rose to the occasion.
Remember when Gleyber Torres carried these guys last year as a rookie, shortly after his first call to the big leagues? How helpful would it be for this depleted group to receive an encore? The sophomore delivered a tantalizing teaser.
Torres’ three-run, sixth-inning homer gave the Yankees a lead they didn’t relinquish as they outlasted Baltimore, 8-4, spoiling the Oriole Park at Camden Yards opener and halting an ugly losing streak at two games. In all, Torres went deep twice, doubled and singled, setting a career high for hits and tying a career best with four RBIs.
“We needed Gleyber to have a big day today,” said Luke Voit, who added a three-run homer for insurance in the ninth inning, “and he did.”
“There’s no better feeling than that,” Torres said. “I feel really [good]when I do my job and help my team.”That two-game losing streak felt more like 20 thanks to the consecutive series losses to bad teams (first these Orioles and then the Tigers) at Yankee Stadium and the flurry of injuries to compound the small army of guys who didn’t even break camp with the club. And it appeared well on its way to 30 … err, three … when starter James Paxton fell into a 3-0, first-inning hole and his teammates with bats continued to treat opposing pitchers with unnecessary graciousness and respect. The Yankees’ only run through five innings came on Torres’ solo homer to left field against O’s starter Alex Cobb.
Then, down 4-1 with two outs in the sixth, a switch somehow flipped. Gary Sanchez ripped a two-out homer to center field, his team-leading third, prompting a change from Cobb to Mike Wright. Greg Bird poked a single to right field. DJ LeMahieu grounded a single up the middle, moving Bird to third. Up stepped Torres, who had followed his third-inning homer with a fifth-inning double.
“Just looking to do damage,” said Torres, who also credited the warmer weather here, with a first-pitch temperature of 66 degrees, for his improvement. “… [I] just tried to hit it really hard.”
Wright got ahead, 0-and-2, and then delivered a high, blase fastball. Torres did the damage, crushing it over the left-field wall, and suddenly, the Yankees were not quite dead yet, up 5-4.