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Yankees Hot Corner – Gleyber Torres earns his pinstripes

If the recent series against the Houston Astros didn’t make you yearn for playoff baseball, I don’t know what will.  The Yankees came into Houston after sweeping the hot Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (what a ridiculous name) and took three of four on the road.  This part of their schedule is essentially a barometer for how they match up against the elite American League team, and they passed this test with flying colors.

The Yankees lost the first game, but then took three straight, including a nail-biter Thursday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.  In their three wins, the Yankees held the Astros scoreless for 28 straight innings.  Let me repeat that; The New York Yankees held the reigning, defending, undisputed World Series champions scoreless for 28 innings.  The Yankees are rolling after finishing their road trip 6-1, and they await the fantastic Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox for their next two series.

To recap the Astros series (because it was so damn good) the starting pitching and bullpen (minus Chad Green but we’ll get to that) was EXCELLENT in all four games.  Sonny Gray was fantastic in a losing effort but didn’t get any run support.  He may not have won, but he looked much more comfortable and actually went at hitters instead of trying to dance around them.

The second game of the series was a scoreless battle throughout, with Jordan Montgomery leaving early with a left elbow strain.  Domingo German pitched flawlessly for four innings and then the rest of the bullpen took over.  Gary Sanchez launched a monster three-run home run in the ninth to give the Yankees the lead, and Aaron Hicks stole home on a wild pitch to extend the lead.  Closer Ken Giles was not happy, punching himself in the face and destroying his glove and a bat in the process.  Aroldis Chapman worked out of some trouble to get the save.

Game three was more of the same, with Luis Severino pitching an unbelievable five-hit complete game, the first of his career.  Giancarlo Stanton got out of his month long funk by hitting two home runs and contributing all four runs the Yankees had.  It was the best most Yankee fans have seen Severnio, and a glimpse into the future of the Yankees’ ace.

Game four was an absolute war for both teams, with Masahiro Tanaka pitching well for six innings before the wheels fell off.  He was gifted a 3-0 lead but loaded the bases up in the 7th and Chad Green faltered, giving up five runs in the 7th and 8th.  Fortunately, the Yankees were able to rally in the 9th with some baserunners.  The kid Gleyber Torres came up in the clutch, knocking in two runs with a seeing eye single in left field, and Aaron Judge drove home the go-ahead run with a groundout.  Chapman got himself into trouble again after Evan Gattis made it to first base after a strikeout and a wild pitch, but he was able to strike out Jose Altuve to end the game and the series.

I don’t know about you, but Gleyber Torres has been excellent so far and gives the lineup even more length than I thought he would.  He is playing as advertised, and in his twelve games, the Yankees are 11-1.  That’s not a coincidence.  He is currently batting .317 and has some clutch plays, including his two RBI single in game four and a great leaping play on the outskirts of the infield to save a hit that could have changed game three.  He looks comfortable, joking around with the guys and even has his own handshake with Didi Gregorius, the glue guy of the Yankees.

If the Yankees continue to win series the way they have the past few weeks, there’s very little evidence to suggest that they won’t eventually catch and pass the Boston Red Sox.  It’s very early in the season but the Yankees look like their in mid-season form.  They are the first team in the league (as per Katie Strang) to win three games after trailing in the 9th.  They are firing on all cylinders and if they could just manage to avoid a long losing streak they’ll be in great position when the dog days of summer hit.

It’s a very long season like I said, but I’m impressed so far with first-year manager, Aaron Boone.  He had some struggles early in the season with managing the bullpen, but he’s let his starters pitch as long as they deserve to and doesn’t try to overthink the game.  All of his moves have worked out recently and he deserves some credit for leaving Luis Severino in there when Joe Girardi most certainly would have went to the bullpen in the 8th.  All we can hope as Yankee fans is that this team continues to deliver on a daily basis and gets the starting pitching that they’ve gotten so far.  It’s a grind, but the Yankees are ready to go.

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