Yanks Edge White Sox, 2-1, In Series’ Opener Playoff-Like Battle

By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/

This was a night to remember at the Stadium that could be a playoff preview in the future.

It began with a fierce pitchers’ duel and then evolved into a game of small ball. Throw in the Yankees’ first triple play since 2104.

In the final phase, Gleyber Torres’ walk-off single off Evan Marshall (0-2)  scored Aaron Judge from second that gave the Yanks’ a stirring 2-1 victory over baseball’s leading Chicago White Sox (26-17), the first of an expected intense three-game series in the Bronx.

Chicago White Sox vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium ,Bronx NY 05/22/21 #25 Gleber Torres is mobbed by his team mates after hitting the game winning single in the 9th inning Neil Miller The New York Extra/ copyright 2021

Chicago’s Carlos Rodon– who tossed a no-hitter April 14 against Cleveland–  and New York’s Jordan Montgomery were locked in a vigorous, scoreless mound duel that saw a combined 24 strikeouts among the total of 47 batters they faced together. Rondon had 13 strikeouts and allowed just two hits, and Montgomery was just as masterful with 11 whiffs and only four hits allowed.

Rodon, who went six innings, struck out seven of the first eight batters he faced.

Torres broke the game open in the seventh when he gave the Yanks(26-19) a 1-0 lead with his second homer of the year to right field off reliever Robert Kopech.

Chicago White sox vs New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium Bronx NY 05/22/21 Gleber Torres celebrates his solo homer tonight Neil Miller The New York Extra? copyright 2021

The 24-year-old, who recently battled a bout with COVID, was gratified to help the team to its fourth consecutive victory.

“That was frustrating,” he noted. “I just wanted to help my team. I had to remind myself who I am and what I can do. I just try to motivate myself to do better.”

“He thrives in those situations,” added Yanks’ manager Aaron Boone about Torres. “He likes playing in those situations.”

After Chicago tied it in the eighth on a flare single off reliever Jonathan Loiasiga, the Yanks had a chance to seal the win in the bottom half with runners on first and third. But pinch-runner ran on contact on Gio Urshela’s grounder just behind second, and Chicago’s Tim Anderson easily threw out Wade at the plate. Luke Voit smoked a liner to third baseman Yoan Moncada, who was able to catch Brett Gardner leaning off second for a double play to end the inning.

In the top of the ninth, Yanks’ closer Aroldis Chapman (3-0) got himself in a game with runners on first and second with nobody out. 

However, Chicago’s Andrew Vaughn hit a grounder to Urshela at third, who fired a strike to second baseman Rougned Odor who in turn threw to Voit at first for a triple play. It definitely ignited a fuse and broke through the tension as Chapman raised  his fist in triumph.

“Gio did the right thing and threw a strike to Odor,” added Boone. “It got us out of trouble, and that was an energy giver. They were fired up coming off the field, and the boys did the rest.”

Montgomery’s effort marked the third consecutive strong pitching performance behind Corey Kulber’s no-hitter and Domingo German’s dominant outing. The lefthander was coming off his shortest outing of the year, a three-inning stint in a 10-6 loss to Baltimore May 16. He threw 90 pitches (68 strikes) over seven innings.

“I think he and (catcher) Gary (Sanchez) were evolving as they went,” noted Boone. “His curveball was a good pitch for him. He worked his fastball well as his lead pitch and his curve was his second pitch.

“He was on the attack, and it was really exciting to watch.”

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