I don’t usually give advice to professional sports teams but, here we are: The Baltimore Orioles should never, ever pitch to New York Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres again.
Torres hit two home runs in the Yankees’ 7-5 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday, giving him 10 home runs against Baltimore this year. That goes go along with a 1.763 OPS, almost three times as good as Torres’ success rate against the rest of the major leagues.
Orioles’ announcer Gary Thorne was at a loss for words Wednesday. Awed by the first home run and then dumbstruck by the second.
“Anytime you have that much success in a short stretch against someone, you just kind of shake your head at it a little bit,” Yankees Manager Aaron Boone told reporters after the game. “It’s unusual and rare.”
Rare indeed. According to STATS, Torres is already tied for the most multihomer games against a single opponent in a season (four), he has the most homers against a single opponent before June and he is the first player to have 10 of his first 12 home runs come against one team. No player in the history of baseball has ever had 10 or more home runs against an opponent in 50 or fewer plate appearances, per Baseball Reference. And only five New York Yankees sluggers have ever hit 10 or more home runs against the Orioles (formerly the St. Louis Browns) in a single season: Babe Ruth (1923 and 1926), Lou Gehrig (1931 and 1934), Joe DiMaggio (134, 1936 and 1937) and Aaron Judge (2017).
Torres took advantage of a Dan Straily’s slider on the first home run in the third and then put Gabriel Ynoa’s fastball over the fence in the fifth, two pitches that account for eight of Torres’s 12 home runs this season. Throwing them in the heart of the strike zone doesn’t help, either.
“There’s definitely a pitching plan; it’s definitely not throw the ball in the middle part of the plate, and we just continue to do it, and when you don’t do it, we get ’em out,” Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde told the Baltimore Sun. “Gleyber’s got two homers besides facing the Orioles, and hitting like .220 or something [against other teams], so major league pitchers are pitching to him. Gleyber’s a good player and he did a really nice piece of hitting on Ynoa, that ball the other way. You tip your hat on something like that, but the other stuff, that’s inexcusable at this level.”
The Yankees added three other home runs for five total on the night, giving them 33 total home runs against the Orioles in 2019. They have 45 home runs against the rest of league. Baltimore, meanwhile, has already allowed 105 home runs this season, including a league-high seven games with at least five home runs allowed. The season record for most five-home run games against is nine, a dubious honor held by the 2016 Cincinnati Reds.