CHICAGO — Gleyber Torres had barely dirtied his spikes and he was already down 0-2.
Coming off the bench in the eighth inning of a tie ballgame, Torres was tasked with passing the baton with two outs and leadoff man DJ LeMahieu looming on deck.
After a called strike and foul ball with the first two offerings from White Sox reliever Joe Kelly, both breaking balls, Torres buckled down and put together what his manager later called the at-bat of the night.
Torres took a ball in the dirt before spoiling a 1-2 sinker in on his hands. Kelly went on to throw three more knuckle curves, each barely missing the bottom of the strike zone, and Torres spit on all three of them, working a walk.
From there, as they say, the rest is history. New York went on to score seven runs with two outs in the frame, jumping out to a 14-7 lead. They went on to win 15-7, their 16th victory in their last 18 games.
“I thought for all the offense, maybe the at-bat of the night was Gleyber, falling behind in the count and just laying off a bunch of really tough pitches to work that walk,” Boone said after the win. “Marvin [Gonzalez] ahead of him getting on base, and then we’re able to obviously blow it open but just a lot of really good at-bats from guys up and down.”
LeMahieu worked a walk after Torres, setting the table for right fielder Aaron Judge, who had already homered in the game. He didn’t leave the yard—or even the infield—but a slow dribbler near the second base bag turned out to be a two-run infield single as both Gonzalez and Torres scampered home while Judge beat the throw to first.
“That’s no small thing him doing that,” Boone added. “He’s shown that ability on the bases in the past, he’s got that knack to take that extra base.”
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Torres had five RBI and whacked his fourth homer of the year on Wednesday, helping to lead New York to a win over the Blue Jays. Adding a single in the top of the ninth on Thursday, the infielder is now hitting .231/.273/.451 in 29 games this year.
Those numbers aren’t setting the league on fire by any means, but considering the production the phenom has been producing over the last two seasons, this is a leap in the right direction. Beyond those numbers, he’s hitting the ball harder this season, avoiding strikeouts and lifting the baseball more often as well.
Overall progress aside, Torres’ teammates didn’t hide their excitement about the second baseman’s key plate appearance. Giancarlo Stanton called it an “unreal at-bat” in an “extremely hard” situation, giving Torres all the credit for the rest of New York’s offensive eruption in that frame.
Judge added that Kelly has some of the nastiest stuff in the league, making it that much more difficult for Torres to lay off those close pitches.
“He can run it up to 100 with his fastball and he’s got a great breaking ball and changeup,” Judge said. “He took some great takes on some breaking balls down and was able to turn the lineup over which is big time for us. Anytime you get DJ up to the plate with guys on base in a big situation, with Rizzo behind me and G behind us, good things are going to happen.”
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism