AP Photo/Seth Wenig
The Yankees didn’t score many runs but managed to compile six Sunday in a doubleheader split with the Texas Rangers in the Bronx. They compiled eight hits in the two games.
Gerrit Cole allowed a run in six innings in the first game. He continued to provide innings but got hurt again with a home run ball in the 7th inning that tied the game.
And here came Gleyber Torres with a “walk-off” solo home run in the ninth inning, seventh of his career and second of the season. The Yankees won the first game 2-1.
So goes Cole and Torres and how important they are as the Yankees continued their early season success with a MLB leading best record 19-8. The first game set a tone against a Rangers team that had won four straight and was looking to overcome a sluggish start to their season.
Yankees manage rAaron Boone said Torres has the ability to get a big hit.
“Part of it is he’s a really good player and a really good hitter,” Boone said. “We’ve seen him time and again, whether it’s in playoff situations, big situations. It does seem he ratchets up that concentration level a bit. It’s great to see.”
Though, Torres has struggled. Last season was a nightmare and there was speculation in the off season that the Yankees would send Torres packing to another town and get something significant in return. Remember, Torres in 2018 was the new “Baby Bomber” and an All-star that finished third in balloting for American League Rookie of the Year.
“I love where his mindset is right now,” Boone said. Torres is no longer that youngster, though at 25-years of age, and with many years ahead, the Yankees are expecting more of the big hits from their second baseman.
“I just wanted to help my team put the ball in play.” Torres said about the sinker off a 3-1 pitch that went over the right field porch. “All game long, we tried to get a run, but we missed opportunities. So I just put myself in the right position.”
These Yankees are showing a limited amount of hits will win ball games. But the big one is coming up at the right time. Rangers’ manager Chris Woodward created a stir and claimed that a Yankee Stadium home run is like hitting one out on a Little League playing field.
But that has always been a claim about the Yankees and how they use the Stadium dimensions to their advantage, though that Torres home run ball was impressive. The Yankees are seeing better at bats and more production from Torres at the bottom of their lineup.
After the Yankees 4-2 nightcap loss in the Mother’s Day Bronx marathon, Torres said “By always having these opportunities, it helps me to do little things for my team and just help my team to win.”
The Yankees almost completed the sweep but a King, as in Michael King. was not living up to his name coming out of the bullpen. King had pitched 14⅓ consecutive innings without giving up a run and relieved starter Jordan Montgomery.
But Brad Miller came off the bench and hit a two-run homer in the seventh and the ERA went from 0.51 to 1.42. Can’t fault King or the Yankees relievers that had not allowed a run in their last 23.2 innings since April 29th.
The Yankees starting pitching and bullpen had allowed 3 runs or fewer in 18 of their last 26 games and 2 runs or fewer in 15. They hit the homerun ball as they did again Sunday. Giancarlo Stanton with a two-run homer in the second game and his 6th of the season.
Boone said King was trying to throw a four-seamer up and in and the location was probably off due to the cold weather that caused the home run ball.
But throwing a bad pitch is going to happen. Regardless, King was due for a bad pitch and these things will happen. Torres will also have more of those bad days at the plate but his at bats have been more consistent with getting on base and not chasing as many bad pitches.
Torres hitting the baseball with consistency and King throwing scoreless ball out of the pen says the Yankees are in a good position. But Torres in the lineup and delivering a big hit often is a major catalyst.
A split is as good as winning both. A good start from the Yankees has put them in a good spot with the second place Blue Jays visiting the division leading leaders again for two games Tuesday and Wednesday.
It’s now a stretch of 23 games in 22 days for the Yankees with the off day Monday now an afternoon finale with the Rangers.
“It’s a learning experience,” King said. “You got to keep going and bounce back.”