NEW YORK — With one out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning on Wednesday night, Gleyber Torres struck out with the bases loaded.
The second baseman quickly fell behind, flailing at a two-strike slider biting sharply out of the zone from Rangers right-hander Dennis Santana.
As fans voiced their displeasure, Torres hung his head, trudging back to the Yankees' dugout.
New York would tie the game seconds later—as Aaron Judge scampered home on a wild pitch thrown to Gio Urshela—but the ballgame still hung in the balance when Torres stepped up to the plate once more in the bottom of the eighth.
This time, with Joey Gallo leading off second base as the go-ahead run after a two-out double, Torres delivered. The infielder poked a double into the right-center field corner, scoring Gallo with ease and sparking an eruption from the crowd at Yankee Stadium.
"I just wanted to help my team," Torres said after the game. "I was just waiting for another opportunity and after Gallo's double, walking up to home plate, I was talking to myself and telling myself that that was my big opportunity."
The Bombers went on to score four runs in the bottom of the eighth, all with two outs, paving the way to a 7-3 win and a series sweep against Texas.
It's been a long year for Torres, a campaign full of more valleys than peaks. The infielder was moved from shortstop to second only a few weeks ago after continued struggles on defense. His power numbers are still down with dips in his production casting shadows over his hottest streaks.
Through all that turbulence, however, Torres' manager has maintained unwavering faith in the 24-year-old and what he's capable of. Wednesday night's clutch at-bat was just the latest example of Torres making a difference.
"That's what he's capable of," Boone said. "When he's right, he's capable of being that really good hitter in those situations because he uses the whole field, he's got good bat-to-ball skills."
Torres echoed the skipper, explaining that using the opposite field has always been a part of his game, especially in those moments when the game on the line. In that spot, Torres was looking to put the ball in play, being patient at the dish.
Overall, whatever it is that Torres has been doing offensively has been working of late. Yes, his slug has been practically nonexistent all season—just seven home runs in 118 games after hitting 38 two seasons ago—but Torres is hitting .312 (29-for-93) with 13 runs and 10 RBI in his last 27 games (since August 1).
Hitting sixth in the order, usually behind Gallo, Wednesday night won't be the last time this year that Torres has a run-scoring opportunity late in an important ballgame. That starts on Friday when the Yankees embark on a six-game road trip in Boston and Toronto, facing the two teams they're battling in the race for an American League Wild Card spot.
He may not be able to change what's happened in the past, fixing the plays that have been costly on both sides of the ball earlier in the season, but Torres has a shot down the stretch to continue to prove that he's as valuable to this club as his manager has always said he is.
"He's a difference maker," Boone said. "I feel like he's settling in and playing really well at second right now. We need him to play at a high level and it's good to see him come up with a huge hit."