BRONX, NY — Gleyber Torres (Caracas, Venezuela) approached the plate with bases loaded in the 10th inning Wednesday night and needed to make contact. That 1-for his last 21, that does not look good and he needed to make contact.
Torres hit the ball to deep-right-center and Isiah Kiner-Falefa easily trotted home from third. The Yankees recorded their first walk-off win of the season, 3-2 over the Angels. Torres met his teammates after he crossed the plate.
First walk-off of the year ✅ pic.twitter.com/QOQ9KESaAo
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 20, 2023
Though not a hit, perhaps his game winning sacrifice fly is the beginning of a batting revival. Overall, the Yankees lineup has been struggling to produce timely hits and runs, and they had their share of opportunities on the bases with the stolen base.
When a team is struggling to score runs the extra base and hitting a sacrifice can do them justice. The Yankees formulated that plan with a ghost runner in the extra frame at second base.
“More comfortable for sure,” Torres said about his eighth walk-off plate appearance tied with Jorge Alfaro for most in the Majors since 2018. “I just wanted to put it in play, just be focused.” The Yankees are hoping their 26-year old second baseman will get his bat going. He is a cog in their lineup and has the capability to get on base.
“Got good at bats all night but not anything to show for it,” manager Aaron Boone said about Torres. “Glad we were able to find a way to win. Thought we played good baseball again.”
Overall, the manager was right about his assessment. The Yankees shut down Shohei Ohtani, well almost because Aaron Judge in center field robbed him of a home run with a catch in the first inning. Judge hit his 6th in the Yankees bottom of the inning, for the 2-0 lead.
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 19, 2023
From there, the Yankees struggled and Torres got the decisive winning run, a good ballgame and a nice win against an Angels team that can make contact because of Ohtani and Mike Trout.
So the approach was better for Torres, a tendency many times to chase after bad pitches, a stigma that caused Boone to make adjustments with the lineup. Last year during the September stretch and in the postseason, Torres, once one of those “Baby Bombers” saw more time on the bench. He got his at bats in a pinch hit role, and Boone put him in the designated hitter role.
At the trade deadline, Gleyber Torres talk was rampant with being a piece of a major trade. He continued to sit, hear the talk, and maintain his focus. But the Yankees remained patient, had no takers, and believed he would revert to that 38 home run year in 2019.
This offseason Torres worked on his approach. He has been more patient and walked 14 times, also with the Yankees running more, Torres is not hesitant to take the extra base.
Rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe, 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts, and Torres have the Yankees displaying a different game because the home run ball has not been their solo attack. Different from Judge and Anthony Rizzo and their customary home run ball.
And the Yankees are without the home run threat of Giancarlo Stanton, out for an extended period of time with a left hamstring strain, thus Torres getting on base and small ball were evident again.
Though, as Torres continues to struggle, the Yankees are winning series. Thursday afternoon they can get another win and take 2-of-3 from the Angels, a team also that looks to get more production from the rest of their lineup and solely not depend on Ohtani and Trout.
“I think we play ball tomorrow, we don’t think about series, just about winning games,” said Torres when asked about taking the finale Thursday afternoon in the Bronx.
Torres commented about Judge and taking a home run away from Ohtani.
“Amazing, it was a really good catch. He makes it look really easy, but it’s so difficult:” Judge said his home run and a diving game saving catch in the eighth inning made it easier for the Yankees, in addition to that home run giving them an early lead.
And Judge said, “That’s what it’s all about, We’ve got to protect our house here.”
Gleyber Torres protected the house. Now the Yankees need him to make contact more. A sacrifice walk-off and winning run could be the start.
Rich Mancuso: Co-editor and senior writer latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso.
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