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How do O's slow Torres? IBB with 3rd base open

Hyde uses unconventional move after Yankee hits 3 HRs in twin bill
@JoeTrezz
August 13, 2019

NEW YORK -- Brandon Hyde has known Gleyber Torres for years, since Torres was a teenager in the Cubs’ system and Hyde an instructor there, so to see Torres rake is nothing new. But by the end of Monday’s grueling doubleheader sweep to the Yankees, the Orioles’ skipper “kind of

NEW YORK -- Brandon Hyde has known Gleyber Torres for years, since Torres was a teenager in the Cubs’ system and Hyde an instructor there, so to see Torres rake is nothing new. But by the end of Monday’s grueling doubleheader sweep to the Yankees, the Orioles’ skipper “kind of had enough.”

So in the late innings of their 11-8 loss in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium, nearly 17 games into their season-long tormenting at Torres’ hands, Hyde decided to just avoid him. Never mind the Orioles were already down five at the time, or that the only base open was third. Hyde threw up four fingers.

“The Barry Bonds treatment,” Hyde said. “Maybe it’s something personal he has [against me].”

Box score

In Hyde’s retelling, he had little choice but to direct Tom Eshelman to intentionally walk Torres, and the numbers make it hard to argue. Torres had already connected for three-run homers off Evan Phillips in the fifth inning and Eshelman in the sixth, his second and third of Monday’s doubleheader and 12th and 13th against Baltimore this season. The Yankees infielder is one of just six players in MLB history to hit at least 13 homers in a single season against a single opponent, and now stands just one shy of Lou Gehrig’s all-time mark against Cleveland in 1936.

“Well, we’re not supposed to pitch to him anyways, or be careful with him,” Hyde said. “And instead of being careful with him, we’re throwing the ball in the middle. So I just didn’t want to see it anymore.”

After the game, Eshelman and catcher Chance Sisco were quick to note the gamble -- unconventional as it was -- worked. With Torres avoided, Eshleman induced an inning-ending grounder from Brett Gardner to strand the bases loaded and keep the Orioles within enough striking distance to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth. They did so via an offense that continues to claw back consistently despite steep deficits, with contributions coming Monday night from Trey Mancini (two-run homer), Hanser Alberto (three hits, three-run homer) and Rio Ruiz (three RBIs).

Eshelman blamed himself for allowing Torres’ second homer of the nightcap to stretch the lead in the sixth, but he’s far from the only Orioles hurler -- Phillips, Game 1 starter Gabriel Ynoa included -- to fall victim to Torres’ historic stretch. The Orioles have now dropped 14 straight games to the Yankees.

“I wanted to get my revenge a little bit, but [Hyde] is our manager for a reason,” Eshelman said. “He made the right decision and we got out of the inning. That’s why he’s getting paid for that position, because he’s being smart as opposed to being competitive. That’s what he has to do.”

In referencing Bonds, Hyde was citing the famous example from May 28, 1998, when D-backs manager Buck Showalter intentionally walked Bonds with the bases loaded. But Torres has actually been better than even peak Bonds against the Orioles this season, in a small sample.

Torres is now hitting .414/.485/1.138 with 20 runs scored and 20 RBIs against the Orioles in 2019, his five multihomer games the most by any player in a season against a single opponent. Torres is the third player to be walked intentionally this year with runners on at least first and second and two outs. The others? Mike Trout and Christian Yelich.

Per the advanced metric Win Probability Added, the Orioles’ chance of winning Monday actually remained exactly the same before and after walking Torres.

“I mean, it’s crazy,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But I think guys typically have success against one team for whatever reason. Gleyber has obviously had a lot of success against them.”

Said Hyde: “He’s obviously a very talented player, and he’s gonna kill mistakes. When we were facing him at home, we did a better job pitching to him. And today we just did not. He’s a really talented guy, with a ton of tools and a bright future. We’re making him look like a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.