Gleyber Torres homers, anchors defense in 2-0 Yankee win over Rays – The Mercury News

ST. PETERSBURG — This winter, as he worked out on his own his during the lockout, Gleyber Torres came to terms with where he was in his career his. The 25-year-old knew changes had to be made. The big one, a move from shortstop to second base, was made for him before the end of the 2021 season. The other change was going into the Yankees minor league complex before the owners locked the players out and asking new hitting coach Dillon Lawson for help.

The changes in Torres are paying off. Friday night. Torres homered and made two strong defensive plays to back up a stellar start by Jameson Taillon in the Yankees 2-0 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees (33-13) won their fourth straight game and guaranteed at least a split of this four-game series in the first meeting with their American League East rival Rays (26-19). They have won 11 of 14 series this season so far. They maintained the best record in baseball with their sixth shutout of the season.

Taillon threw a career-high eight scoreless innings, holding the Rays to two hits. It was his first scoreless start of the season. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. It was the fourth time this season Taillon did not issue a base on balls and the first time in his last four starts. Taillon had great fastball command Friday, getting five swing-and-misses on the four-seamer and six called strikes.

It was the fourth time this season the Yankees have had a starter go eight innings and the second straight game. That’s a huge help to a bullpen that has been hit by injuries — losing Chad Green (Tommy John surgery), Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder) and Aroldis Chapman (Achilles) in the last week. Friday night, Clay Holmes closed it out with his 24th consecutive scoreless inning over 22 appearances Friday picking up his sixth career save.

Matt Carpenter, added to the roster on Thursday and already making his second start, got his first hit as a Yankee. He homered in the fourth inning to give the Bombers a 2-0 lead against lefty starter Jeffrey Springs.

There was no doubt about Torres’ eighth home run of the season. In his second at-bat on Friday night, Torres crushed a 91-mile-an-hour fastball from lefty Jeffrey Springs several rows deep into the left-center field seats. The 438-foot homer was so sure to be out of the park that Torres took three steps up the first base line admiring it and then flipped his bat to the side.

It had to feel good.

Last season, Torres hit just nine home runs total in 127 games and he’s hit 12 homers in 2020 and 2021 combined. His struggles his began in 2020, when after MLB shut down spring training for four months because of the coronavirus, the Yankees felt he showed up to the restart of the season out of shape. He suffered a leg injury and struggled. In 2021, he had an early bout with COVID-19 and a thumb injury that hindered him. After hitting .251 with a .671 OPS in 107 games at shortstop, however, Torres ended the season on a little surge. He hit .300 with an .815 in his last 19 games — all at second base.

You can see the difference.

In 44 games this season, Torres has shown that he is more comfortable at second base, after a disastrous attempt to start him at shortstop the last two seasons. That seems to have carried over to his offense. Torres is hitting .234/.276/.448 with a .724 OPS.

Torres also is showing it with his glove. In the fifth inning Friday night, he made the inning-ending grab on a ball deflected off Taillon, making a tough play look simple. In the sixth, with an out and a runner on second, Torres went to his right and grabbed Mike Zunino’s line drive with his backhand to hold the runner and get Taillon closer to the end of the inning.

Taillon no-hit the Rays through four innings.

Randy Arozarena’s groundball single under Isiah Kiner-Falefa’s glove to lead off the fifth was the first hit off the Yankees’ righthander Friday night. Manuel Margot hit a curveball that Taillon tried to drop in for a strike to double in the seventh.

That was all the Rays got off him.


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