|Gleyber Torres returning to the dugout after his home run on Thursday night. Photo by Jason Schott.
Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres got it done with his bat once again, while starting pitcher Domingo German turned in another big outing on the mound, to lead the Yankees past the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
German entered this one after a good start against the Mets last Saturday night, when he went six innings, and did not allow a run after giving up three in the first. He settled in and struck out nine, tying a season-high from May 6 against Cleveland.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said in his pregame press conference on Thursday of German's ability to get over early adversity in games, "I think that's part of what we really like about his makeup, that he definitely has that ability to put things behind him both good and bad. I also think it's a peek into his talent, he's got a lot of ability, he can make a lot of pitches, and I think the thing that really stands out about Domingo is the ability to command his secondary stuff when he needs to, when he's behind in the count, the ability to pitch backwards is something that's been a real strength for him.
"When he's commanding his fastball, because the secondary stuff follows suit, he almost commands his secondary stuff better. When he's commanding his fastball, he can be really dynamic and he can shut down any offense and he's got that kind of ability and that kind of equipment and those kinds of weapons, and he knows it. He knows that if he's commanding his fastball, I don't care who he's facing, he's got the ability to shut them down and he pitches with that confidence. Just every now and then, he gets a little out of whack and loses command of that fastball, and that's the key for him."
On Thursday night, Tampa Bay's Matt Duffy hit the very first pitch of the game to left field for a home run.
German responded by striking out the next three hitters to get out of the first, on his way to 10 K's on the night.
The 10 strikeouts are a new career high for German, and he is the first Yankee to get a double-digit strikeout game besides Luis Severino, who has four on the season.
It also is significant because it came on a night that the Yankees were honoring Ron Guidry's 18-strikeout performance against the Angels on June 17, 1978. Fans received a Guidry bobblehead and Louisiana Lightning was on hand to throw out the first pitch.
German went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a pair of walks, with the 10 K's.
Boone said of German's outing, "I thought he filled up the strike zone for the most part, especially after giving up the first-pitch home run. Unfazed, and was really pitch-efficient and pounded the strike zone for the most part. He kind of cruised there a little bit, ran into a little bit of trouble there in the sixth, but I thought he was really efficient. His fastball command was there and a really strong outing for us especially after getting punched there right before the roll call even started."
Matching German's dominance was Tampa Bay's Blake Snell, who racked up eight strikeouts on the night and kept the Yankees off the board through the first four innings.
That changed in the fifth, as Aaron Hicks led off the inning with a home run to right field. Aaron Judge followed with a single, and Gary Sanchez drew a one-out walk.
That brought rookie sensation Gleyber Torres to the plate, and he launched a rocket to deep left field to make it 4-2 Yankees and it sent the huge crowd of 45,066 into a frenzy.
This was Torres' 13th home run of the season, and it was his fifth three-run homer of the season, the most in the majors.
Torres leads all rookies with 13 homers and 33 RBI this season, and his 33 RBI are sixth-most by a Yankee through 45 games.
The 13 home runs are seventh-most in American League history through a player's first 45 career games, and third most by a Yankee through that many games, behind Gary Sanchez with 19 and Kevin Maas with 15.
|Boone with Torres during batting practice. Photo by Jason Schott.
"Just really pleased overall with our guys on a tough night facing a tough guy. We made it hard on him, and even if we hadn't scored there and broke through, his night was probably going to be over and who knows what happens from there. But, yeah, Gleyber."
On Torres being able to come through in the clutch, Boone said, "I think it's his ability to adjust within the at-bat. I feel like I've seen it a number of times this year, where he may look bad on a pitch and then gets deep into a count, and he's hit a lot of different pitches out for home runs, you know, whether it's offspeed pitches, fastballs, different quadrants of the strike zone. He's shown the ability to handle different pitches, obviously the ability to go the other way, into the big part of the field. His in-game adjustability, both him and Miggy (Miguel Andujar), theit ability to adjust to what a pitcher's doing in the course of an at-bat has been something I've been really pleased with."
After German was pulled, the Yankees' best trio out of the bullpen, Chad Green, Dellin Betances, and Aroldis Chapman threw an inning each to close out the game. Chapman earned his 19th save of the season.
Green had one strikeout, and Betances and Chapman had two each, which coupled with German's 10, gave the Yankees a combined 15 strikeouts as a team.