This is one throbbing secondary pinstriped headache.
The good news for the Yankees, their first homestand in the books, is that Gary Sanchez has shown some signs of life, their biggest risk of the offseason playing like he might be salvageable.
The bad news? Another winter risk — a lesser one, it appeared at the time — has left quite a sting.
Gleyber Torres’ 10th-inning throwing error didn’t directly lead to the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, as the game ended in the 11th frame. Yet the shortstop’s second official miscue of the year, on top of a couple of other memorable unofficial foul-ups, lowlighted the Yankees’ first loss to the Orioles at home since May 15, 2019, ending a stretch of 12 straight wins over these guys in The Bronx.
And it intensified the scrutiny on the fourth-year player, who arrived in the big leagues as a serviceable second baseman and has struggled to transition to Didi Gregorius’ successor at shortstop even though he played there as a tot in Venezuela. If it’s obviously too early to wonder about a change at the crucial position, it’s late enough to note the problem here.
“He has all the capabilities to go out there and do it,” manager Aaron Boone said of Torres after the game. “When he makes a high-profile miscue, he’s got to work past that. … He has all the equipment to work through that, through the bumps, and, he has the confidence to know he has the equipment to get through it.”
Though Boone obviously is not averse to spinning on a player’s behalf (he opined prior to the game that Baltimore’s Ryan Mountcastle should have been called out on a ninth-inning play Tuesday that Torres took way too long to execute, gifting Mountcastle with an infield single), he offered no alibis for Torres’ game-changing relay.
Chad Green had recorded two outs, allowing the extra-innings runner, Anthony Santander, to advance only from second to third, when O’s catcher Pedro Severino knocked an easy grounder to Torres. With plenty of time to get the slow-footed Severino, Torres unleashed an absolutely terrible throw that inexperienced first baseman Jay Bruce couldn’t corral, allowing Santander to cruise home. Those who remained from the announced crowd of 10,254 let Torres have it with a stream of boos.
“He made a really tough throw over there for Jay,” Boone said. “It’s got to be more on target.”
Kyle Higashioka provided his teammate a temporary reprieve when he singled home pinch-runner Tyler Wade from second in the bottom of the inning. Yet when Green served up a one-out, go-ahead single to pinch hitter Chance Sisco in the 11th, scoring Rio Ruiz from third base, the spotlight turned back to Torres.
He stood on deck in the bottom of the inning as Santander caught DJ LeMahieu’s line drive to right field and nailed a tagging Gio Urshela at home, leaving Urshela disheveled and Yankees fans hoping the questionable send didn’t produce an injury. Boone said Urshela was OK, having “wretched his neck,” and this seems like a good time to mention that the injury-prone Aaron Judge wasn’t available and is in doubt for Friday due to soreness in his left side.
Sanchez clocked a strong night, contributing a walk, single and double and handling his duties behind the plate controversy-free. He returns to Florida sporting a .278/.350/.667 slash line.
Torres contributed a walk and single to lift his line to .250/.333/.292, well below what’s expected of him. His brand, after all, calls for him to outhit his mistakes with the glove.
For now, there’s little for the Yankees to do besides support their youngest player and hope their faith pays dividends. That even if he’ll never be Ozzie Smith out there, he’ll cut down considerably on the mental mistakes. They’ve made their bed with him at the premium spot.
It’s a headache, for now. Not an incurable one, for sure. One, though, that the Yankees hah hoped to avoid before they so much as played a road game.