Odor, Torres jolt Yanks as bats awaken in win

April 23rd, 2021

As the Yankees eyed another new-look lineup upon arrival to the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field on Thursday, the unspoken message was one of urgency. Their belief in the potential of a run-scoring juggernaut has not wilted, but there was no attempt to camouflage the reality: They needed results now.

A few big knocks provided that boost, as the Yankees opened their eight-game road trip with encouraging signs of life from their slumbering lumber. Gleyber Torres fueled an early three-run rally and Rougned Odor’s go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning put the club in the driver’s seat as the Bombers posted a 6-3 victory over the Indians.

“I'm really happy,” Torres said. “It's difficult to be patient when you don't do anything for your team. That is the hard part of this game; be patient, believe in yourself and try to do the things you can control. Finally, I could do something tonight for my team.”

Emerging with their second win in eight games, the Yanks’ early-season doldrums seemed to be opening a new chapter as Domingo Germán allowed three runs (two earned) in the first inning. Cesar Hernandez’s sinking liner popped out of Brett Gardner’s glove in left field, Eddie Rosario’s infield hit knocked into Mike Ford at first base and Germán booted Franmil Reyes’ potential double-play ball up the middle.

“The crap kind of hit the fan in the first inning,” New York catcher Kyle Higashioka said. “We had some bad luck, were a little sloppy.”

But Germán and the Yanks recovered. Facing Cleveland starter Aaron Civale, DJ LeMahieu delivered a RBI single in the third, then Torres -- having earned a closed-door chat with manager Aaron Boone after failing to run out a grounder on Wednesday -- pushed two runs home with a third-inning RBI single that also eluded right fielder Josh Naylor for an error.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Boone said. “That first inning, with what we’ve been going through, they didn’t let it snowball. We really did a lot of good things the rest of the way. What started out very rough turned into a really good night.”

Torres also played a role in the go-ahead rally, stroking a two-out single in the seventh, part of his three-hit performance. Aaron Hicks walked to load the bases, and Odor delivered, hammering a Nick Wittgren fastball into center field. Entering that at-bat, Odor was 3-for-28 since joining the Yankees in a trade earlier this month.

“I like those situations,” Odor said. “In those situations, I just try to enjoy myself, believe in myself. I don’t care who I’m going to face. I’m just going to try to do something to help my team win, and that’s what I did tonight.”

Germán's strong outing
Germán silenced Cleveland's bats after the first, earning his first big league win since Sept. 12, 2019. He paced the Yankees with an 18-4 record that year before receiving a season-ending suspension under MLB's policy against domestic violence.

Recalled from the alternate training site to make his third start of the year, Germán said that he had worked on his fastball command. The results were better, allowing him to scatter seven hits while walking one and striking out six. Germán retired the final seven batters he faced.

“You’ve got to stay calm,” Germán said through an interpreter. “That’s what it’s all about, executing pitch after pitch to find your rhythm. I think it was key for me that I was able to get some quick outs. That allowed me to go deep into the game.”

Higster, bullpen deliver
As Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sánchez rested, Higashioka extended the Bombers’ lead with a leadoff homer in the eighth off right-hander Cal Quantrill. It was the third home run of the season for Higashioka, one of the club’s most potent hitters thus far despite limited playing time.

“It’s a product of my swing being in a good place,” Higashioka said. “I’m of the Ted Williams school of thought, having a slight uppercut to match the plane of the pitch and give yourself the most margin for error. You miss on top, it’s a line drive. You miss underneath, it’s a homer. If you square it up, it’s a gapper.”

Aroldis Chapman pitched around a one-out walk in the ninth to record his third save in as many attempts. The left-hander struck out the side and has now recorded two or more strikeouts in 15 consecutive appearances, a franchise record. Jonathan Loaisiga, Chad Green and Chapman combined for three innings of scoreless relief.

“That’s who we are,” Boone said. “And that’s who we have to be.”