BALTIMORE — Just when you might have thought Gleyber Torres was about to regain the form he had in 2018 and 2019, the second baseman has started to look like the version of himself from the past two seasons.
After going hitless for a fourth straight game in Sunday’s 5-0 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards, Torres is 0-for-13 with two walks and four strikeouts since he homered for the first time this season on Wednesday.
Sunday’s effort included a fourth-inning bunt after DJ LeMahieu led off with a single.
It went for a sacrifice, but Torres was trying to get a hit, with Baltimore shifted to the left side and only the pitcher, Bruce Zimmermann, and first baseman Ryan Mountcastle on the right side of the infield.
But Torres didn’t get enough on the bunt and Zimmermann fielded it easily.
Aaron Boone approved of the idea, if not the way it played out.
“If he pushes it by the pitcher, it’s a free hit,’’ the manager said. “It’s a good play. He didn’t quite get it over there.”
Torres also moved from second base to shortstop after Anthony Rizzo pinch hit for Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the seventh inning instead of using Marwin Gonzalez.
Torres then hurried his throw on a grounder by Kelvin Gutierrez with two outs in the inning and it pulled Rizzo off the bag. The play went for a hit, but a better shortstop likely makes it. Jorege Mateo followed with a single, but Jonathan Loaisiga struck out Austin Hays to end the threat.
Boone said Rizzo wasn’t in the starting lineup because he was “beat up a little bit” after being hit by a major league high four pitches. Boone’s decision was solidified after Saturday’s game, when Torres was plunked again.
“Getting smoked in the knee pushed me over the edge,’’ Boone said of Rizzo, who struck out to lead off the top of the seventh inning.
He remained in the game and finished at first base.
Gerrit Cole is set to make his third start of the season on Tuesday against the Tigers after allowing a homer in the first inning in each of his first two outings — one to Boston’s Rafael Devers on Opening Day and a second to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. his last time out against the Blue Jays. Guerrero also took him deep in the third inning of that game.
Rather than simply focusing on eliminating the home runs before this outing, Cole said he was looking at improving his delivery and “just being efficient.”
The Yankees optioned JP Sears to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Saturday’s game in part because they want to keep him stretched out as a starter. They continue to view Clarke Schmidt as a starter, but he remains in the Yankees’ bullpen — as does Michael King, who has flourished as a reliever.
“He has an arsenal that allows him to go back and [start] if that arises,’’ Boone said of King. “There’s no doubt he’s become a really valuable member of the bullpen, pitching in every role.”
King has been able to serve as both a long man and closer and has held opposing batters to an OPS of .640 out of the bullpen compared to .821 as a starter.
“He’s turning himself into a really valuable guy back there, but you don’t have to close the book on him starting, either,’’ Boone said.