BOSTON – The major-league record for home runs in a season again belongs to the franchise whose very nickname – Bronx Bombers – suggests pure power.
Gleyber Torres made history on Saturday when he drilled a 1-and-1 pitch from Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center with one on and two out in the top of the fourth inning. It was the Yankees’ 265th home run of 2018 and broke the MLB record set by the Seattle Mariners in 1997 and tied by the Yankees on Friday night.
Torres, a rookie, knew exactly what was at stake when he connected, leaping as he left the batter’s box, knowing his line drive had the distance. “Everybody knows the number. I hit the ball and felt happy I had the opportunity to hit that home run. My teammates did, too. All the guys were happy,” Torres said. “All season everyone did a good job, and I’m happy for all of us.”
A more esoteric piece of statistical history also was achieved on Torres’ 24th home run. He was batting ninth and his homer was the 20th from that spot in the batting order, meaning all nine slots produced at least 20 home runs en route to the record.
“I didn’t even know that until before the game. In my meeting with the broadcast team [from Fox], they said, ‘Oh, you’re going for 20 in the nine hole,’ " Aaron Boone said. “I said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know that was a thing,’ but apparently it was. So when Gleyber hit it, I was sharing all that information with the guys on the bench because I felt like I had this newfound knowledge. I guess it was fitting that it was one of our young studs that got it done.”
The Fox broadcasters put the emphasis on that unusual accomplishment, with David Cone -- who usually works for YES -- mentioning almost as an afterthought that it had broken the single-season record.
Asked if he had such expectations as a first-year manager after inheriting a team that belted 241 homers last season, Boone said, “I guess it [the record] was possible because it felt like those were the first questions I got on the job.”
He acknowledged that the achievement is “special” because of “the amount of people that you didn’t expect to contribute as many home runs as they have.”
That would include rookies Torres and Miguel Andujar (27), neither of whom started the season on the team, as well as a stunning late surge from Luke Voit (13) and career bests from Aaron Hicks (27) and Didi Gregorius (27).
Of course, one slugger who was expected to contribute was Giancarlo Stanton, acquired from the Marlins in an offseason trade. Stanton also homered on Saturday -- his 38th extended the record to 266 -- and drove in two runs to reach 100 RBIs.
“That was cool for me, but a lot of cool things happened for our team today,” Stanton said, also noting Andujar’s Yankees all-time rookie record for doubles in a season. “But the team home run record involves all of us. So that’s the coolest one.”
Recalling his quote after the trade in which he said he “felt sorry for the baseball this season,” Stanton smiled and said, “266. And they were screamers, too!”