Gleyber Torres Celebrates Yankees Anniversary With Clutch, Breakout Performance

Max Goodman

Even someone as young as Gleyber Torres knows the proper etiquette when celebrating an anniversary.

This weekend marked four years since Torres — a top prospect at the time — was dealt from the Cubs to the Yankees in a trade involving Aroldis Chapman. The budding star acknowledged the milestone on the day of the anniversary, tweeting on Saturday that the trade was "one of the best things to happen to me."

After an 0-for-4 performance in New York's 9-2 loss that night, fans undoubtedly wondered where their present was. Four years is a major milestone. Evidently Torres, however, was still been putting the finishing touches on his present — maybe some pinstripe-themed gift wrap. 

The following afternoon, the Yankees' shortstop was responsible for three of New York's five hits in Sunday's 3-2 series-clinching win over the reigning champs in Washington D.C. 

Torres broke up a no-hitter, got the Yankees' offense on the board with a solo home run and drove in the winning run with a two-out base hit in the eighth frame.

"Just a good player getting some good pitches to hit and doing some damage today," manager Aaron Boone said. "Really good to see him really set the tone for us offensively."

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Nationals' left-hander Patrick Corbin had retired the first 11 Yankees he had faced before Torres snuck a single up the middle in the fourth inning, ending an 0-for-7 start to his 2020 campaign. 

Part of the reason it took him two-plus games to register his first base knock, he said, was his excitement. Four months off due to MLB's coronavirus-induced hiatus after a 38-homer barrage last season had Torres eager to get back out there taking some hearty hacks. On Sunday morning, Torres took a step back and changed his game plan at the dish.

"I woke up today and just thought about putting the ball in play," the 23-year-old said. "First at-bat was a strikeout. So the second at-bat I got a hit. After a hit, I felt a little more confident. And, I mean, each inning and inning I feel better and better."

What happened next showed the potential this ballplayer has. After all, Boone called Torres on Saturday "one of the best players in the league."

Corbin had retired 18 of the 19 hitters he had faced when Torres stepped in for his third at-bat. With six of Corbin's eight punch outs coming via his wipeout slider, Torres once again made an adjustment.

"He dominated with his slider so I just tried to be ready for the fastball," Torres explained. "He threw it to me, and that was my opportunity to do damage."

He smacked a first-pitch heater 403 feet to left field for his first home run of the season, slashing Washington's lead in half and forcing manager Dave Martinez to call to the bullpen.

"It was nice to finally get that monkey off our back and get going," first baseman Luke Voit said on Torres' seventh-inning jack. "We were waiting for Gleyber to break out. Today he finally broke out in a clutch way, so it was nice to get Corbin out of the game and get in their bullpen."

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Two batters later, Voit followed suit with his own solo shot, knotting the game at two apiece.

One inning later, Torres delivered the decisive blow in New York's comeback, driving a base hit to left off southpaw Sean Doolittle, sending Aaron Hicks scampering home.

"I saw an opportunity with a man on second," Torres explained. "I got more focused in the last at-bat, I just wanted to do my job, looking for pitch I can hit really well."

On a day when Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sánchez combined to go 0-for-8 with five strikeouts, Torres proved he's capable of driving this high-octane offense out of the three spot of the order. And while his defense in the later innings nearly costed New York the game, Torres continues to blossom into a star at the plate before our eyes.

With respect to the four-year anniversary of his arrival into the Yankees' organization, Torres said "it's an honor" to don pinstripes. His goal is to "continue the history" of this franchise and bring some championship hardware back to the Bronx. 

In the meantime, his clutch, three-hit performance will do. It was one day tardy in honoring a special milestone, but better late than never when it comes to celebrating anniversaries, right?

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For more from Max Goodman, follow him on Twitter @MaxTGoodman. Follow ITP on Twitter @SI_Yankees and Facebook @SIYankees

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