Scorching hot Torres leads Yanks to 1st series win since July

August 31st, 2023

DETROIT -- Not many players have hit better than has in the past week, and Wednesday night was more of the same for the Yankees’ second baseman, who slugged his 23rd home run of the season and added a ninth-inning double during New York’s 6-2 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Torres is a big proponent of team success, but he’s also enjoying the individual triumphs that have seen him rise from a challenging post-pandemic season and evolve into the player who’s hitting a scorching .340 this month (35-for-103).

“I feel like I [am] a little bit more mature this year,” said Torres, who has also walked a career-high 52 times. “I remember ’21 was a tough year for me, defensively and offensively. And last year, I proved myself that I can be the guy I was in the first two years [of my career]. So last year was a bounce back for me, and this year is just for me to prove to myself that I can take a walk, less strikeouts, follow my plan.”

In manager Aaron Boone’s estimation, Torres is also more well-rounded than the All-Star who hit 38 homers in 2019.

“I think he’s a better player now,” Boone said. “… What I'm seeing night in and night out is good, quality at-bats. Whether it gets results or not, I feel like he's getting the ball off the barrel a lot, making good swing decisions and just starting to hit like an experienced player.”

With the victory, the Yankees clinched their first series since July 21-23. In Thursday’s finale, they’ll have a chance at their first four-game win streak since May 27-30.

Torres has played a big role in that. In addition to starting a key double play in the fourth, Torres walked and scored two runs. He’s hitting .600 (6-for-10) during the current four-game series, with a pair of doubles, three homers and four RBIs.

Much as they have been doing during their recent resurgence, the Yankees fed off his energy. Giancarlo Stanton hit his 20th homer immediately after Torres’ opposite-field home run in the fourth inning to push New York’s lead to 6-1, marking the eighth time this season the Yanks have hit back-to-back home runs.

Detroit native DJ LeMahieu also went deep in the second, and newcomer Everson Pereira added two RBIs in the win.

The combined effort at the plate gave Gerrit Cole a little cushion on a night that frustrated the Yankees’ ace from time to time. Cole entered the night 7-1 with a 1.94 ERA in 11 career starts against Detroit and had not allowed a Tigers home run since James McCann took him deep on Sept. 12, 2018.

When all was said and done, Cole still secured his 12th win of the season. The six innings he offered were above and beyond many others’ standout nights -- he held Detroit to two runs on a pair of solo homers, struck out seven and walked two -- but the AL Cy Young Award hopeful didn’t think it was his best effort.

“The delivery was a little bit out of whack tonight,” Cole said. “A few too many jerk pitches, so definitely made my fair share of mistakes and got away with them. So I feel like there's some room for improvement.”

Even on a night that didn’t quite satisfy his lofty standards, Cole still took time to dole out praise Torres’ way, saying his teammate has had a “sneaky really, really good year.”

“I think it's been cool to watch him kind of progress the last couple of years and get back to that level of production that I think he holds himself to the standard to,” Cole said. “And personally, I'd like to see him continue to take another step forward.”