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Ninth-inning walk seals sweep for Yankees

Torres, Sanchez spark rally off the bench; Tanaka goes six one-run innings
@BryanHoch
May 23, 2019

BALTIMORE -- Given their scorching success, there were more than a few eyebrows raised when the Yankees posted a lineup card on Thursday that lacked both Gleyber Torres and Gary Sánchez, who have already combined to mash 19 dingers off Baltimore's homer-prone pitching staff. The decision to rest the stars

BALTIMORE -- Given their scorching success, there were more than a few eyebrows raised when the Yankees posted a lineup card on Thursday that lacked both Gleyber Torres and Gary Sánchez, who have already combined to mash 19 dingers off Baltimore's homer-prone pitching staff.

The decision to rest the stars seemed scripted by the ninth inning, as both were available to pinch-hit when the Yankees needed them most. Torres walked, advanced on Sanchez's single and scored on Aaron Hicks' bases-loaded free pass as the Yankees completed a four-game sweep of the Orioles with a 6-5 victory at Camden Yards.

Box score

"When they get me a day off, I just say I am ready to pinch-hit, any opportunity that I can help the team," said Torres, who is batting .465 (20-for-43) against Baltimore. "I just try to be ready every time."

The late rally boosted the first-place Yankees to their fifth consecutive victory and their ninth straight over the Orioles. New York outscored the O's 34-21 in the series.

"We're a team that's going to score runs," Hicks said. "From top to bottom, we're going to do damage. That's the great thing about our team, is that guys can take rest days -- like I did yesterday -- and still win ballgames."

The Yankees held a four-run lead in the eighth inning, but that evaporated as Jonathan Holder issued a pair of walks and surrendered a run-scoring Trey Mancini single before exiting. After an out, Tommy Kahnle served up a game-tying, three-run homer to Renato Nunez.

Baltimore's Mychal Givens recorded the first two outs of the ninth, but Torres and Sanchez reached base before DJ LeMahieu walked to set up Hicks. Manager Aaron Boone said that even as the bullpen coughed up the lead, there was not a moment when he second-guessed his call to rest Torres or Sanchez.

"To have them sitting over there in that spot was nice," Boone said. "And the fact that they were ready; it's not always easy for guys that are regulars like that, who have been sitting over there all day. We got a little bit of a lead, give it back and all of a sudden, they're prepared."

Forced to move his feet twice by fastballs that zipped low and inside, including one that dropped his chest to the dirt, Hicks flipped the bat away in disgust after looking at ball four.

"I wanted to get up and hit a homer," Hicks said. "I wanted to do damage in that situation. I don't like being buzzed. I wanted to do damage. That's a situation where I want to break the game open. I want to extend our lead by more than one. Just one run worked today."

Masahiro Tanaka settled for a no-decision, but the right-hander was pleased with his effort. Chased from his previous start by a grounder that bruised his right shin, Tanaka received another scare in the second inning, when a 102.3 mph liner off Rio Ruiz’s bat struck Tanaka's right index finger, then his glove.

Yankees might turn to opener to fill in for CC

Scampering to retrieve the ball and firing errantly to first base, Tanaka tapped his upper left chest, which absorbed some of the blow. Any fears of injury were assuaged as Tanaka completed six innings of one-run ball. The right-hander retired the final seven Orioles he faced, and he finished scattering five hits while walking one and striking out five.

"I don’t know why, but something clicked," Tanaka said through a translator. "I got out of the inning with only one run and then was able to settle down. That inning when I got hit, I think there was more energy. After that, in the third inning, when I was able to settle in, it was about getting into really sound mechanics."

Clint Frazier hit a fifth-inning homer off starter Dylan Bundy for his ninth of the year and his sixth off Baltimore pitching. New York claimed the lead in the sixth as Gio Urshela chased Bundy with a two-run single, his fourth hit in as many bases-loaded at-bats this season.

"I am trying hard and I am looking for something I can hit hard to help my team," Urshela said.

Austin Romine knocked home Thairo Estrada with a seventh-inning single, and Luke Voit hit an eighth-inning home run off Miguel Castro, his 12th.

"I think Gleyber was letting us hit some home runs today," Voit said.

Voit's shot opened up a four-run lead that Torres and Sanchez surely believed would keep them out of the batter's box. Instead, as Boone surveyed his lineup card in the ninth inning, they were exactly where they needed to be.

“Anytime you can get four games, that doesn't happen very often," Boone said. "I'm really excited that we won in a lot of different ways in this four-game series. It was good to see. The guys played until the end each and every day. It's a good way to get on the plane."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.