The White Sox may have entered Saturday with the second-best record in the American League — a team that generally has pitching and depth and so much hitting — but what they don’t have is Gleyber Torres.
A day after Torres’ walk-off hit in the ninth beat the White Sox, the Yankees shortstop was back at it again Saturday, driving in four runs in the Yankees’ 7-0 win at Yankee Stadium. That, coupled with a solid seven innings by Gerrit Cole, ensured the Yankees’ seventh straight series win and fifth straight victory. They have won 16 of 21 and 21 of 29.
Torres went 3-for-4, scored two runs and is hitting .268 after dipping to .182 in mid-April. In his last seven games, he is 11-for-27 with nine RBIs.
"When you have good strike zone control, it’s going to give you an opportunity to be a good hitter and good player, and that’s what we’ve seen," Aaron Boone said. "His strike zone awareness has gotten better and better and better each year, and now we’re starting to see, after a little of a slow start, we’re starting to see the results follow that good strike zone control."
Coming off his worst outing of the season, Cole bent but did not break. He allowed eight baserunners — three courtesy of walks — but also induced four double plays to tap dance out of trouble and lower his ERA to 1.81.
The Yankees’ last four starting pitchers — Corey Kluber, Domingo German, Jordan Montgomery and Cole — have totaled 30 straight scoreless innings in which they have allowed 14 hits and four walks for a 0.60 WHIP.
It was only the second time in franchise history that the Yankees have had four straight starters go at least seven innings without allowing a run, according to baseball historian Katie Sharp. The other time? It was in 1932.
Overall, the Yankees have allowed one run in the last 40 innings.
Torres, who drove in the Yankees’ only two runs Friday, picked up where he left off in the fourth inning Saturday afternoon.
After Dylan Cease allowed a one-out single by Aaron Judge and walked Gio Urshela, Torres lined a hanging curve into the gap in left-center for a two-run double. Rougned Odor then doubled to deep center for a 3-0 lead.
Singles by Luke Voit and Brett Gardner and a one-out walk to Urshela loaded the bases in the fifth, and Torres lined a two-run single to left off Matt Foster to put the Yankees up 5-0.
"I just try to be confident," Torres said. "I go to home plate, believe in myself and try to do the job. Pitchers are throwing really well right now, so just try to be simple and put the ball in play."
He added that he made significant adjustments from the beginning of the season, thanks to constant conversations with hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant P.J. Pilittere.
"The first couple weeks of the season was a little bit of a struggle," Torres said. "P.J. and Marcus, they helped me a little bit to remind me of the little things — to make adjustments at home plate . . . [and introduce] more consistency to my routine before the game and, in every at-bat, to do the same thing."
Mike Ford hit a 447-foot home run deep into the bleachers in right-center in the sixth and Miguel Andujar added an RBI double in the seventh.
It was, in all, a satisfying win against a very good team, though Boone was loath to call it any sort of litmus test.
"We certainly understand that they have a very good club over there, and for us to give ourselves a chance to win, we have to play really good baseball, and fortunately in these first two games, the guys have played really well," Boone said. "You’re tested all the time and this group is confident enough where, if we play our game, we’re going to be able to go out and beat whomever we play as long as we play good baseball."