With all that went on in their 3-1 victory over the Red Sox on Saturday night at the Stadium — and there was more than enough drama served up during the rain-shortened night — lost in it a bit was a home run the Yankees hope gets one of their stalwarts going.
Gleyber Torres hit his first homer in 29 games since June 5 and fourth of the season, a sixth-inning shot to right-center off Hirokazu Sawamura. It came two pitches after Gary Sanchez homered and gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
Torres then went deep against Martin Perez in the second inning Sunday night, making it two homers in two at-bats.
"I know there's been a lot of talk, obviously, about Gleyber and not hitting the ball out of the ballpark, but [I] felt like he swung the bat well in Houston," Aaron Boone said. "We know what he's capable of, and for him to have a tack-on run there and really put a good swing on one was encouraging no doubt."
Torres, who hit 24 homers during his breakout rookie season in 2018 and followed that up with 38 homers in 2019, came into Sunday hitting .239 with a .641 OPS. His lack of power has been a discussion since last year’s COVID-19 shortened 60-game season, when Torres hit .243 with three homers and a .724 OPS in 42 games.
"I’m just focusing on putting the ball in play, try to get on base, and the power I think is coming," Torres said June 5 when discussing his power numbers, or lack thereof. "I don’t focus on that. I don’t worry about that. At any point of the season, I can start hitting homers. Right now, I’m just focused on putting the ball in play and don’t [try to] do too much. I don’t really worry about that [power] . . . My moment is coming."
Perhaps the mechanical tweaks Torres and hitting coach Marcus Thames have been working on much of the season finally kicked in.
"I’ll go back to some mechanical things within his hips that I think are a factor," Boone said Friday in evaluating Torres in 2021. "He probably hasn’t completely unlocked or mastered or gotten back to where he’s in that good, strong, powerful position consistently."
Boone has spoken about the work Thames and Torres have done with the 24-year-old’s "foundation" at the plate.
"With Gleyber, when he’s at his best, he’s really strong in his lower half," Boone said on June 30. "[That] is something that allows him to be the kind of hitter he is, and to hit with the authority that he hits with."
Torres has shown glimpses this season of being the hitter he was in 2018 and ’19 — he went 24-for-65 (.369) with a .946 OPS from April 27-May 23 and 12-for-31 (.387) with a .977 OPS from June 2-10 — but those stretches have been the exception rather than the rule.
Boone took heart in what he saw in Houston before the break, when Torres went 4-for-12 with a double in the three-game series, and what he saw in the first two games of the second half.
"I think we’ve seen some glimpses of it," Boone said after Saturday’s victory. "He just missed the ball that he hit to the fence [Friday night]. I thought he had some really good, aggressive powerful passes [last weekend] in Houston. Hopefully the power follows but, more importantly right now, I just want him to have really good at-bats and be in a position to help us win ballgames."