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Torres’ walk-off heroics lift Yankees over Nats in extras despite Scherzer’s historic day

May 8, 2021; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees shortstop Gleyber Torres (25) is congratulated by teammates after hitting a game winning RBI infield single against the Washington Nationals during the eleventh inning at Yankee Stadium.
Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

What began as a Cy Young pitcher’s duel turned out to be an extra innings thriller on a sopping wet afternoon in the Bronx as the New York Yankees walked-off the Washington Nationals by a score of 4-3.

It was the first Yankees walk-off of 2021.

The late magic was thanks more than in part to Yankees short-stop Gleyber Torres, who not only tied the game in the ninth but also hit the game winning, walk-off dribbler single in the 11th inning.

He’s the first Yankee to tie a game in the ninth inning and then hit an extra innings walk-off since Raul Ibanez in the 2012 ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles.

Starting two and a half hours later than planned due to rain, Washington’s right handed Max Scherzer and the righty Yankees Corey Kluber were the pair of aces sharing Saturday’s slippery stage – one which Scherzer more than shined on by setting some Yankee Stadium history.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The National League standout struckout 14 Yankees in a span of seven innings, keeping the Bombers hopes at an offense showing tightly capped for almost the entire duration of regulation.

Kluber also put up a legitimate outing, though not one which outshined his competing starter.

He was tested early on in the third inning with a one out, bases loaded scenario where he walked in a run to Washington a 1-0 lead.

Scherzer, who struck out six of the first seven Yankee batters also faltered early by surrendering a game tying home run to catcher Kyle Higashioka that same inning.

“You give up a run as a pitcher and then your team answers right back, it’s always a good feeling,” Kluber said.

Besides that solo shot and later a single surrendered to third baseman DJ LeMahieu, Washington’s ace remained virtually unhittable for the Yankees as he struck out 11 batters through five innings.

In the top of the sixth, the Nats regained their lead off an RBI single from former Yankees infielder Starlin Castro – one which ended Kluber’s day with six strikeouts, six hits, and the two earned runs. 

“They made me grind out some at-bats,” Kluber said.

Righty Chad Green entered in relief and closed out the inning as a steady flow of rain again poured in the Bronx around 5:15 p.m.

By the end of the seventh inning, Scherzer’s K total reached a record setting 14.

Soon after, Scherzer gave up his first walk on the day to left fielder Clint Frazier in the eighth inning and concluded his more than standout day just one batter later, finishing with 14 strikeouts, one run, two hits, and that single base on balls.

Then things got interesting.

Washington’s left handed Brad Hand walked LeMahieu to start the ninth inning, he advanced to second base on a fielder’s choice from DH Giancarlo Stanton and then to third on a blooped in single to shallow far right field by right fielder Aaron Judge.

Batting with one out, Torres then displayed some late game heroics with a game tying, RBI single which also advanced Judge to second base.

Though, the Yankees couldn’t make anything of it.

Left handed closer Aroldis Chapman came in for the tenth inning where he was worked into a no outs, corners on jam after a leadoff single by center fielder Victor Robles had advanced Washington’s designated runner at second base.

Shortstop Trea Turner then put a sacrifice fly ball into right field to push the Nationals ahead 3-2.

In the bottom of the tenth, first baseman Mike Ford, re-tied the game at three apiece with a leadoff, RBI single after a few missed attempts at bunting Frazier to third.

“I was comfortable with him bunting there, but once he got into that 3-1 count I just felt like it was a good leverage count for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

“That was the at-bat of the game,” Judge said.

Then Yankees lefty Justin Wilson managed to keep Washington scoreless in the top of the 11th inning, setting up Stanton to lead off with LeMahieu starting at second.

“That was huge…I thought he threw the ball really well it was good to see,” Boone said on Wilson’s shutdown inning.

In the bottom of the inning, righty Tanner Rainey walked Stanton and then Judge to load the bases for Torres, whose infield dribbler down the third base line became the walk-off winner for the day’s nearly four hour affair.

“We never lose the mentality we can with the game,” Torres said following the walk-off, adding what it felt to contribute to the team in such a meaningful way.

“It hasn’t been easy for him necessarily at the plate, but he’s found a way, he’s gotten some big hits for us in some big spots,” Boone said.

Number 99 also expressed confidence that his “little dinker” in the ninth could lead to more success at the plate despite his own recent slump.

Boone called the win a “happy ending” on what truly was a whirlwind of a day.

Saying Scherzer “a load” to face, Boone added that he was happy with not only Kluber’s outing, the resiliency of the Yankees bullpen, and the team’s ability to find ways to win ball games.

Before the game, Boone stressed the relativity of the Yankees record as well.

“As far as over .500 this or that, we gotta just make sure we’re head down playing consistent baseball and that’ll take care of itself,”

Now the Yankees improve to an over .500 17-16 while Washington drops to 13-16, both teams meet again tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. in the Bronx.

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