Gleyber Torres combined two of his favorite hitting scenarios — on Mother’s Day and in the clutch — to deliver another game-winning swing on Sunday.
But the Yankees lacked the same big hit in the second game of the doubleheader, plus got an uncharacteristic relief outing from Michael King, as they fell to the Rangers 4-2 to settle for a split on a cold and windy day in The Bronx.
Torres led off the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 with a walk-off home run to the opposite field off Rangers left-hander John King to lift the Yankees to a 2-1 win.
Coming off a three-day layoff — one scheduled day off and back-to-back rainouts — the Yankees’ bats were quiet for most of the day, threatening to spoil another strong start from Gerrit Cole in Game 1 like they would in Game 2 with Jordan Montgomery.
But Torres came through for his seventh walk-off hit since 2018, the most in the major leagues during that span, to win it for the Yankees (19-8).
“Part of it is he’s a really good player and a big hitter,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think we’ve seen him time and again, whether it’s in playoff situations, the biggest situations it seems like he does ratchet up that concentration level a bit. Cold day out there, it was good to see him stick one that just happened quick. You’re thinking of all the possibilities there and he ends it real quick, which was nice.”
It also marked the second straight Mother’s Day on which Torres has homered, after hitting a pair on the holiday in the minor leagues.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward blamed the 369-foot home run on the short porch — “Just happened to hit it in a little league ballpark to right field,” Woodward told reporters, before later claiming he was joking — but it counted just the same. It also would have been a homer in 26 of 30 MLB ballparks, according to Statcast.
“I feel like both teams play in the same ballpark and it’s the same dimensions,” Torres said. “I feel good to hit a walk-off homer in the little league ballpark. Happy to win the first game.”
The Yankees were unable to complete the sweep, though, despite heading into the seventh inning of Game 2 with a 2-1 lead thanks to a two-run, 461-foot homer from Giancarlo Stanton. Montgomery left another sharp outing after giving up a leadoff double, with Boone calling on King from the bullpen.
After a dominant first month of the season, King proved to be human on Sunday. He walked the first batter he faced before recording a strikeout and a fielder’s choice that put runners on the corners with two outs.
King’s first pitch to Brad Miller was a changeup in the dirt that got past Jose Trevino, allowing the tying run to score. His next pitch was a fastball that Miller drilled into the Yankees’ bullpen to put the Rangers (11-15) ahead 4-2.
“Just two bad pitches,” King said. “A spiked changeup and then a bad sequence going to a fastball there. He was probably sitting fastball after I threw a changeup 40 feet. So I either should have had more confidence in the changeup throwing it again or done something else.”
The Yankees had a chance to pick King up in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with two outs for Aaron Judge. But Rangers reliever Dennis Santana got Judge to fly out to left field to escape the jam.
Between the two games, the Yankees went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 15 men on base.
“Just ebbs and flows,” Anthony Rizzo said. “Sometimes you come through. The more we put ourselves in that position to come through, the better off we’ll be. Some tough conditions today, but there’s no excuses. We’ve got to put our best foot forward and I think we did. Tomorrow we’ll come in and try to win the series.”