In a remarkable stretch of Yankees baseball the last two-plus weeks, one attribute stood out most to Aaron Boone.
“The nicest thing is I feel we’re proving we can win games in different ways,” Boone said late Sunday morning.
Until Sunday afternoon, they hadn’t quite won this way, though.
Down by four runs and with only one hit entering the eighth, the Yankees scored three runs after two were out, the last two on a double by Aaron Judge.
Doubles by Aaron Hicks and Neil Walker tied it in the ninth, setting up a walk-off three-run homer by rookie Gleyber Torres that gave the Yankees a 7-4 victory over the Indians — their sixth straight win and 15th in the last 16 games — in front of 40,107 at the Stadium.
“I just love how our guys continue to battle in the box, no matter what,” Boone said. “Obviously, we can do it up and down the order and Gleyber, from the nine-hole today, what an at-bat.”
Torres, who had been called up two weeks earlier, blasted a full-count sinker from Dan Otero into the Monument Park side of the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center to win it. Torres, 21, who hit his first major-league homer Friday night, became the youngest player in franchise history to hit a walk-off homer.
“Super-awesome,” he said in describing the moment.
“He definitely doesn’t play like a 21-year-old, I’ll tell you that,” said Dellin Betances, who pitched a scoreless seventh after inheriting a no-hitter from rookie Domingo German but was charged with three runs in the eighth. “What he did right there, putting that ball in the bullpen in that situation, I didn’t know he had that kind of pop.”
The Yankees (24-10), who are off Monday before beginning a three-game series against the AL East-leading Red Sox (25-9) on Tuesday night at the Stadium, have outscored the opposition 98-37 in their 15-1 streak. They finished an 18-games-in-18-days stretch at 16-2.
“For us to kind of go through that gauntlet to finally get to the off day, that’s a special run, there’s no question about it,” Boone said.
Hicks led off the ninth against Cody Allen (2-1) with a long double to center over Greg Allen’s head and scored the tying run when Walker lined a double down the rightfield line. Otero came on to face Miguel Andujar, who grounded out to third, and pinch hitter Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked to set the stage for Torres.
German, a 25-year-old rookie righthander making his first major-league start, certainly earned a second one, striking out nine and walking two. German, a starter throughout his minor-league career who has been with the club as a long reliever, was at 84 pitches, 23 more than his previous high this season, when he was removed.
Mike Clevinger, who allowed one hit and struck out a career-high 10 in 7 1⁄3 innings, was replaced by Allen after walking Walker and Tyler Austin in the eighth. Torres flied to center for the second out, but Brett Gardner lined a full-count fastball to center for an RBI single that made it 4-1. Judge then lined a 2-and-2 fastball to right, and when Tyler Naquin couldn’t make a diving catch, Judge had a two-run double.
“I don’t think there’s ever a time, in any game, no matter what the score is, where we’re thinking, ‘Oh, maybe not today,’ ” Austin said. “I think no matter the situation, no matter how many we’re down, we feel like for the most part we can come back in that game.”