BOSTON – Gleyber Torres went into ALDS Game 2 on Saturday night looking for the big moment that escaped his grasp in the Yankees’ 5-4 loss to the Red Sox in the series opener.
Torres had a chance to make his mark on Friday night when he came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning and the Yankees trailing 5-2.
Torres, who is not the most patient hitter, worked the count to 3-and-1 and thought he had a run-scoring walk. But Brandon Workman’s 3-and-1 pitch was called a strike and Torres struck out on a tough breaking ball that appeared to be out of the strike zone.
“He pitched pretty well,” Torres said of Workman, one of five relievers Red Sox manager Alex Cora used to get the final 11 outs after Boston took a 5-0 lead. “He threw a couple of sliders, a breaking ball and one fastball. At 3-and-1, he threw me a fastball away. To me personally, I think it's a ball, but the umpire [called it] a strike. It is what it is. And the last pitch I'm just focusing and tried to hit. He threw me a really, really good breaking ball, I think the best breaking ball of his night for him. I missed.”
The Yankees then loaded the bases with none out in the seventh but managed to score only one run to make it 5-3. Aaron Judge's leadoff home run off Craig Kimbrel in the ninth left them a run short.
Torres went 1-for-3 with a walk in his second postseason game after going 0-for-3 in the Yankees’ 7-2 victory over the A’s in the AL Wild Card game on Wednesday night.
“[Friday] night for me was a bad night,” Torres said. “I struck out with bases loaded and we lost. But I always stay positive and I say it is what it is. Today is another day and I'm focused. It's past. I learned, for sure.”
It’s that aptitude for improvement – plus a boatload of talent -- that has allowed the 21-year-old Torres to have a season that was good enough to put him in the running for American League Rookie of the Year. Torres hit .271 with 24 home runs, 77 RBIs and an .820 OPS.
Not bad for someone whom manager Aaron Boone penciled into the No. 9 spot in the order in the first two postseason games. Torres moved up to eighth on Saturday night against lefthander David Price because of the absence of injured No. 3 hitter Aaron Hicks (hamstring). Brett Gardner replaced Hicks and batted ninth. Torres and Gardner drew two-out walks in the second inning and Andrew McCutchen singled to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead in Game 2.
“It's very exciting to have an opportunity like this, especially my first year, and have the chance to go to the playoffs and be part of that,” Torres said. “It's super-exciting. At the same time, I want to help. I want to enjoy the experience, but at the same time, I want to help my team.”
Torres and fellow rookie Miguel Andujar are getting their first taste of the postseason with a win-or-go-home wild-card game followed by the white-hot crucible of Yankees-Red Sox. It’s a pretty good baseball education.
“ I think it's really valuable,” Boone said. “Those are two guys that have come up with a lot of eyes on them, a lot of expectations. Obviously, big prospects in the game coming into this year and they have delivered. Not an easy place, you know, to come into a really good team and have the kind of impact that they have had this year. They have shown the ability over and over again to make adjustments and really handle the ups and downs, even in a great season, that are inevitable. They've done a really good job with that. And now this is another step for them in their continued development. And I feel really good that they're capable and equipped to have success in this environment, too.”