NEW YORK -- As Gleyber Torres rounds the bases on a regular basis, he stops short of saying that it comes as a surprise, pointing to an intense offseason training regimen that continues to pay dividends. Yet the Yankees' new home run leader still laughs to reject any suggestion that he has developed into a power hitter.
Torres prefers to think of his approach as one of contact, but after homering twice to claim the club lead with 29 big flies in the Yankees' eventful 6-5 win over the Indians on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, he stands as the youngest player in Major League history to record seven multi-homer games in a season.
"I learned a lot from last year," Torres said. "It gives a little bit of confidence right now to me. I just try to go to home plate and take really good at-bats, try to hit the pitch I can hit. It's not about homers, just the opportunity I've got to help my team and just try to win games. That is the most important for me."
At 22 years and 247 days old, Torres slugged a fourth-inning blast off Cleveland starter Zach Plesac to go back to back with Didi Gregorius, then added a solo shot in the sixth off Nick Wittgren. Torres is the second-youngest player to record nine career multi-homer games, behind only Hall of Famer Mel Ott (22 years, 132 days).
"He showed his power last year," manager Aaron Boone said. "He has the ability to hit the ball out to all fields, which lends itself to being able to hit for a lot of power. He’s very strong. The ground force he creates in his swing lends itself to power. … I think the power is real."
DJ LeMahieu also homered to help the Yankees secure their 16th victory in 19 games, moving a season-high 41 games over .500 (83-42). Torres said that these past two games against the Indians – balanced, one-run victories – have had the feel of playoff games.
"The fans help a lot," Torres said. "It's a lot of fans. It's like [the] postseason. It's great to play like that."
Carlos Santana stroked a two-run single in the first off Paxton, who owns a Major League-worst 11.05 ERA (27 ER, 22 IP) in the first inning and a 2.96 ER (30 ER, 91.1 IP) in all other frames.
"I've been trying to find a way through it all year," Paxton said. "For some reason, it keeps on happening. I'll continue to do everything I can to mitigate that."
Paxton settled in but was hurt by a non-call in the fifth on Santana that he and Boone believed should have been a third strike. Instead, Santana and Yasiel Puig punched run-scoring singles through the left side of the infield to tie the game.
"If he gets a call here and there, I think he has a chance to get really deep into that game," Boone said.
Savages in the Bronx
"I didn’t think I did anything to warrant getting ejected," Gardner said. "Almost on a daily basis or a lot of times over the course of the season, I do a lot of things to get our guys fired up. I thought it was a big point in the game, a very big game against a really good opponent, and the last thing I’m trying to do is leave that game early."
Cleveland threatened in the eighth against Zack Britton, as Puig doubled, advanced on a single and scored on a wild pitch. Britton induced a key double-play grounder to escape the jam, with second baseman LeMahieu fielding the ball and stepping on second base before firing to first.
"Those guys have been great for us all year," Boone said. "The fifth inning was a challenge, so we were committed to going to our four guys today in that kind of situation, and they delivered."