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Gleyber Torres sent a fastball soaring, started jogging toward first base and raised his right arm about the time a young boy in the first row of the right field short porch caught the ball on the fly.
Torres followed his go-ahead, three-run homer with a two-run single and led the surging Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays, 5-3, on Wednesday for their 15th win in 17 games.
“My swing is getting better and better,” Torres said. “I think confidence is back, and that is the most important for me.”
A heralded phenom who is just 25, Torres came up to the Yankees in 2018 and became an All-Star in each of his first two seasons, hitting 62 home runs. But he slumped for the next two seasons, totaling just 12 long balls.
“I got too many opportunities to do things for my team and I missed. I failed,” Torres said.
Yankees Manager Aaron Boone benched Torres for six of this season’s first 25 games, including opening day, when Torres’s tying sacrifice fly in the 10th helped the Yankees beat Boston.
Torres had a game-ending single against Cleveland on April 23, a walk-off home run in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader against Texas and drove in all the runs in the series finale against the Blue Jays.
The 2022 M.L.B. Season
A season that was in doubt is suddenly in full gear.
- King of Throws: Tom House has spent his life helping superstars get even better. With a new app he wants to fix young pitchers before they develop bad habits.
- Simply the Best: Who is the best player in baseball? According to Carlos Correa, it’s Byron Buxton, the Twins’ talented (but fragile) superstar.
- All the Right Moves: Nestor Cortes of the Yankees was struggling to make it in the majors before he leaned in on the oddities that made his repertoire work.
- Call Her Manager: Rachel Balkovec is the first woman to manage a team in affiliated baseball. Her players know who is in charge.
Torres has 16 R.B.I. in his last 15 games and four home runs in his last 11. Overall, he is batting .222 with 18 R.B.I. and five homers — four to the opposite field
“I think it’s a little bit mechanical. I think it’s a little bit maturity, I think it’s a little bit work and routine,” said Boone, who cited Torres for getting his hips and lower body better aligned this season. “He’s had to fight for some playing time here early in the year, and he’s responded to that in a way you’d hope.”
The Yankees finished a two-game sweep to win its seventh straight series and improved to a major league-leading 22-8, its best 30-game start since 2003. The Yankees are 13-0 when scoring five runs or more.
“We’ve won in a lot of different ways,” Boone said. “It’s been pitching some days, maybe a baserunning play. We’ve had our handful of games where we’ve scored a bunch of runs and had a couple of blowout games. And we’ve scrapped and found ways late. … That’s built a lot of confidence in that room, that we know we don’t have to lean on one thing on a given night.”
Cashman Is Done Talking
Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said he will not discuss publicly whether any contract talks are going on with Aaron Judge. The outfielder is eligible for arbitration, with a hearing possible up until June 24, and can become a free agent after the World Series. Judge rejected an eight-year contract worth $230.5 million to $234.5 million, the difference to have been determined in arbitration for this year’s salary, and said he didn’t intend to negotiate again until after the season.
Nationals Hand Megill an Early Exit
WASHINGTON — Nationals Manager Dave Martinez had seen encouraging signs from Nelson Cruz, who was signed in the off-season to provide veteran muscle behind Juan Soto but has struggled thus far. Soto said Cruz’s consistently positive attitude has buoyed the team during its difficult start.
Both were thrilled to see what Cruz did on Wednesday night, a no-doubt three-run blast to left-center field as the Nationals jumped on Tylor Megill and the first-place Mets in an 8-3 victory.
“It was a long way,” Soto said of Cruz’s homer, which traveled an estimated 436 feet. “It’s great to see him hitting the ball like that.”
Soto hit a two-run homer in the Nationals’ five-run first inning as Washington sent Megill to the earliest exit of his career.
“He’s got a pretty good fastball. I know he’s going to throw it,” Soto said. “He threw me four in a row, and I won’t let him throw me five in a row by me.”
Cruz, who came in batting .170 with three homers, followed in the second with his 453rd career homer, passing Carl Yastrzemski for 39th all-time.
Megill (4-2) walked the next batter and his night was over. He recorded four outs while allowing eight runs on eight hits with a walk and a hit batter, losing his second straight start as his ERA swelled from 2.43 to 4.41. The second-year right-hander’s previous shortest outing came Sept. 15, when he allowed six runs in three innings in a loss to St. Louis.
“An outing like this, as bad as it went, just can’t really dwell over it,” Megill said. “Obviously it was a bad outing, but I’m capable of way more. I’m not going to let this one define me.”
The Mets lost by five or more runs for the third time this season and will have to win Thursday’s rubber game against its last-place rival to avoid dropping a series for the first time. The Mets have won eight series and split one.
Box scores and summaries from the rest of Wednesday’s games.
Covid Outbreak Cancels Guardians Game
CHICAGO — The Cleveland Guardians are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak that has sidelined Manager Terry Francona and several of the team’s coaches, leading to the postponement of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.
Shortly after Francona’s positive test became known, Major League Baseball said there were “multiple positive COVID-19 tests” in Cleveland’s organization and called off Wednesday’s series finale to allow for more testing and contact tracing.
It is the first coronavirus-related postponement since the season started on April 7.
DeMarlo Hale, a bench coach for the Guardians who was slotted to fill in for Francona, also tested positive, and Cleveland has “multiple coaches and other team support staff members” infected with the virus, according to team spokesman Bart Swain.
At this point, it’s unclear who will manage the Guardians when they open a three-game series in Minnesota on Friday. It’s likely the team will bring up several minor league coaches and field coordinators for the series.
The Guardians are off Thursday. The team did set its rotation for the Twins series, with Aaron Civale starting on Friday, followed by Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie. Civale was scheduled to start Wednesday.
Francona, 63, who has dealt with serious health problems the past two seasons, tested positive for the virus a few hours before the scheduled first pitch. The team said he currently is not showing any symptoms.