NEW YORK — Gleyber Torres tracked the flight of his fourth-inning drive as he jogged toward first base on Wednesday afternoon, raising his right index finger toward his teammates as the ball dropped just beyond the right-field wall. Go ahead and call it a “Little League” homer if you want; the runs all count.
Yankee Stadium’s dimensions have been kind to Torres of late, prompting some salty commentary from Rangers manager Chris Woodward this past weekend. Yet whether they land in the first row or the second deck, as Aaron Judge’s first career walk-off homer did less than 24 hours earlier, a new hero emerges each day for the Bombers.
“So good,” Torres said after driving in all five runs of the 5-3 Yankees victory over the Blue Jays. “Especially versus those guys; it’s a huge series for us. Every time I get an opportunity, I try to do my thing and help. That is the mentality for me.”
While Judge seems to be on an MVP pace, a younger-than-usual crowd still buzzing after he slugged his Major League-leading 10th homer in the first game of a two-game sweep of Toronto, New York’s best start in decades has been powered by contributors up and down the roster.
The Yankees are 22-8 for the first time since 2003, the season in which now-manager Aaron Boone’s pennant-winning home run sent them to the World Series. They fell to the Marlins that autumn, but each of the other seven times they won 22 of their first 30 ended with the hoisting of a World Series trophy (1923, ‘28, ’32, ’39, ’50 ’58, ’98).
“I caution that we’re 30 games into this,” Boone said. “I do feel like in every area, we’re strong — and probably more complete than in previous years. I think [we’re] the whole package — we really feel like we can win a game a lot of different ways.”
Considering that the water-cooler chatter of March and much of April was to grill Brian Cashman for not doing enough — they passed on free agent shortstops like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and Trevor Story, then stood pat after expressing interest in multiple starting pitchers — New York’s early success might have tempted the longtime general manager to take a victory lap.
Not yet, Cashman said: “Criticism comes with the territory. Our players have to deal with that all the time. The only thing that matters is going out there and winning. These guys are winning their games right now. It’s great to see and it makes it easier to sleep at night.”
The Yankees have won seven straight series, leaning upon their arms (a 2.60 staff ERA, best in the AL), some big swings (40 home runs, third in the Majors) and overall offense (.722 OPS, sixth in the Majors). Sprinkle in a renewed focus on athleticism, with stolen bases no longer organizationally taboo, and it’s no wonder why these Yanks feel they have something special cooking.
“The thing for me,” said right-hander Jameson Taillon, “is that we’re able to beat teams in so many [ways] this year. The starters have thrown well [and] we have one of the best bullpens in baseball. When the lineup is clicking, we have one of the deepest and most dangerous lineups in baseball. … On any given night, it can be any player in any situation who can come through.”
Yes, Wednesday marked the Yanks’ 10th comeback victory of the season — their second in as many games, having trailed Toronto by two runs before Judge stepped to the plate in the ninth inning on Tuesday.
The Jays pounced on starter Jameson Taillon for a first-inning run in Wednesday’s matinee, though the damage could have been far greater as the right-hander navigated a bases-loaded, none-out jam. Torres touched José Berríos for a 361-foot, three-run homer in the fourth, snapping an 0-for-11 skid and marking Torres’ fourth homer in 11 games.
“He’s had some of the most clutch hits we’ve had all year,” DJ LeMahieu said.
Torres delivered again in the sixth, greeting Trevor Richards with a two-run single to center field — the entirety of New York’s offense. The last two years have been a head scratcher for Torres, who drew pointed criticism for his conditioning in ’20 and was moved off shortstop late in ’21, but the Yankees love where his mindset is now.
That could easily extend to the rest of their roster, too. Another game, another hero delivers — Judge last night, Torres today. Who will it be tomorrow? Step right up.
“So far, we’ve played really good baseball,” Torres said. “Every guy is doing little things for the team. That is important for us. I don’t want to say something wrong, like we are the best right now, because things change so fast. Just be humble and do what we do every time.”