BALTIMORE – Naturally, Gleyber Torres was thinking about going deep.“For sure, I wanted to hit a homer,’’ Torres said of strolling up in Thursday’s ninth inning, representing the go-ahead run.Torres had already homered 10 times in 11 games this year against the Orioles, while Gary Sanchez had clubbed nine homers in 10 games versus the last-place O’s.Both were rested from Thursday afternoon’s starting lineup but contributed as pinch-hitters in the Yankees’ 6-5 win at Camden Yards.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone talks about the Yankees four-game sweep of the Orioles in Baltimore on Thursday, May 23, 2019 Pete Caldera, Staff Writer, @pcaldera
Batting with two out and nobody on base, Torres worked out a walk, Sanchez followed with a soft base hit and the Orioles went to pieces again.DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks (RBI) followed with walks against closer Mychal Givens, sending the first-place Yankees (32-17) to a clean, four-game sweep of the Orioles (15-35).Having lost 10 of their first 12 games to the Yanks in 2019, Baltimore will only see Torres and Sanchez in their nightmares until they meet again in August.“You always like when they’re in the lineup,’’ manager Aaron Boone said of Torres and Sanchez, the first Yankees duo since Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris (1961 vs. Washington Senators) to each hit at least nine homers against an opponent in a single season.“But to have them sitting over there in that (ninth-inning) spot, that was nice.’’
Waiting a turnTwice in this series, Torres hit two homers in one game, including Wednesday night’s 7-5 win.Also on Wednesday, Sanchez crushed his third homer in three games here – a 440-foot blast that went through a left field walkway and possibly threatened someone standing in a hot dog line.Sanchez caught Wednesday’s night game and Luke Voit received his second straight start at designated hitter, giving the slugging first baseman a bit of a break.Boone continued to play the long game, deciding the 22-year-old Torres needed a rest after seven straight starts at shortstop.
“Maybe Aaron was letting us hit Gleyber’s home runs today,’’ said Voit, who belted what turned out to be an important solo shot in the eighth.But a safe-looking 5-1 lead vanished in Baltimore's four-run eighth, capped by a game-tying, three-run Renato Nunez homer off Tommy Kahnle. At that point, Torres’ off day was over.“You prepare mentally, hit a little bit in the cage and come into the game,’’ said Torres, notified by Boone to be ready to hit in the ninth. “It’s an opportunity to help my team.’’Torres said he understood the original decision by Boone to rest, though he didn’t feel it was necessary.“I feel good, really healthy,’’ Torres said. “I prepared in the offseason to play all the games.’’
Masahiro Tanaka received an unexpected wakeup call in the second, when a 102 mph Rio Ruiz liner bounced off his upper left chest, after grazing his right index finger and deflecting off his glove.It was a flashback to Tanaka’s last start, when he took a 111 mph Yandy Diaz comebacker off his right shin.“I think it spurred him on a little, put a fire under him,’’ Boone said of Tanaka, who was languishing to that point.“I think he’s right,’’ Tanaka said through an interpreter. “I don’t know what, but something clicked and I got out of that inning with only one run,’’ thanks in part to DJ LeMahieu’s sharp defensive play at second base.Tanaka yielded just one run over six innings and was in line for the win, when Jonathan Holder and Kahnle buckled.
Tanaka still has a wrap on his right shin, from Diaz’s hot shot.Afterward, Tanaka counted himself lucky to have avoided any serious injury in his past two starts.“102?’’ he repeated in English at the mph on Ruiz’s frightening liner, looking away and shaking his head.Clint Frazier’s solo homer tied it in the fifth, breaking an 8.2 scoreless inning streak by the Yanks’ lineup dating to Wednesday night.And Gio Urshela’s two-out, two-strike, two-run single in the sixth gave the Yanks a 3-1 lead and knocked out starter Dylan Bundy.