Torres homers in 4th straight game as Yankees top Angels 2-1
A month into his big league career, the 21-year-old seized the moment, stroking a low, outside sinker over the right-field scoreboard for a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning and becoming the youngest American League player to homer in four straight games.
Even Torres seemed a bit surprised.
”I’m like, a contact guy,” he said.
Torres showed off his power bat and Aaron Judge saved a pair of runs with his brawny arm, twice throwing out runners from right field. The Yankees beat the Los Angeles Angels 2-1 Friday night in the opener of a series showcasing some of the sport’s brightest stars, New York’s 14th win in its last 16 home games.
And that wasn’t all the drama. Two-way Japanese rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani came up with the potential tying run on base and two outs in the eighth, sent Aroldis Chapman’s 100.3 mph pitch just foul, then grounded out on a 101.9 mph offering as the Angels dropped to 0-4 against the Yankees this year.
”His pitches were really fast, really powerful,” Ohtani said through a translator.
Just 21 years, 163 days old and playing his 28th game since coming up to the Yankees on April 22, Torres worked the count to 3-1 against Johnson (2-2), then hit his ninth big league homer and fifth in four games. He became the fourth-youngest player since 1900 to homer in four straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only Miguel Cabrera (20 years, 362 days) in 2004, Andrew Jones (21-139) in 1998 and Albert Pujols (21-147) in 2001 were younger, and all were in the National League.
”When you combine intelligence and instincts and talent, you’re looking at what’s been a very special player for us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. ”I don’t know that a lot of guys come up with instinct. He’s got it 10-fold.”
Torres is hitting .333 with 24 RBIs.
”He just never looks like a moment is too big for him,” Judge said.
Kole Calhoun had singled with one out in the third and advanced on Gary Sanchez’s eighth passed ball this season. When Justin Upton lined a single to right with two outs, Judge threw home from 216 feet at 100.5 mph , his hardest in the major leagues, according to MLB’s Statcast.
”It’s about time. I’ve been trying to hit 100,” Judge deadpanned. ”I’m glad I broke it. I think I got 99 (mph) last year. … My day was made.”
Sanchez caught the ball on the fly, then reached back and tagged Calhoun on the left calf.
”When he first let go, I’m thinking, all right, he’s going with the long hop, because it was so low, and that thing just carried right through,” Boone said.
Judge also threw out Martin Maldonado trying to stretch a single off Chad Green (3-0) in the seventh, taking a one-hopper off the wall in the right-field corner and without rushing made what seemed to be a nonchalant throw – that went straight to shortstop Didi Gregorius, who applied the tag at second. Calhoun followed with a single that would have driven in a run.
”I’ve probably made that play 1,000 times pregame, so it’s just like practice,” Judge said.
David Robertson walked Upton with one out in the eighth, Pujols lined out and the left-handed Chapman came in to face lefty-hitting Ohtani.
Chapman threw the 26th wild pitch with Sanchez behind the plate this year as he fell behind in the count 2-0, then got the key out. He got four straight out for his first four-out save this season, finishing a six-hitter for his 10th save in 11 chances.
”You saw two guys bringing their best stuff,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ”Chapman was turning it loose, letting it go and Shohei put some terrific swings on it.”
While Ohtani is batting .309 to go along with a 4-1 pitching record, he is just 4 for 23 (.174) at the plate against lefty pitchers. The 23-year-old was 0 for 3 with a walk, booed lightly in his Yankee Stadium debut after spurning New York to sign with the Angels.
”It’s not the first time it’s happened,” he said of the jeers.
Angels: C Rene Rivera had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee and likely will be sidelined for four to six weeks. … RHP Matt Shoemaker had mild fluid in his pitching forearm, according to an MRI on Thursday in Los Angeles.
RHP Jaime Barria is to be recalled Saturday from Triple-A Salt Lake to start for the Angels. He is 3-1 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts for Los Angeles this season. RHP Sonny Gray (3-3) starts for the Yankees after allowing one run over eight innings to win at Kansas City on Sunday.
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