A dramatic, come-from-behind victory on a game-winning home run is the stuff of fantasy. Gleyber Torres’ walk-off three-run blast on Sunday afternoon could become a turning point of the 2018 season. It may be the moment on which we look back and say, “this was the when the Yankees solidified as a team.” But it probably won’t be that moment. There’s a very good reason why not: the Yankees do this nearly every day.
The Yankees are on a certifiable hot streak. 15 of the last 16 games have ended with John Sterling belting out, “THEEEEEEE YANKEES WIN!” They’ve have gotten fantastic pitching from young stars (Luis Severino), old vets (CC Sabathia), and rookies (Domingo German, wow!). There’s been clutch hitting from nearly everyone in the lineup, with a new hero leading the team to victory each day.
There have been a few blowouts, such as the 14-1 obliteration of Minnesota on April 23, and the 11-1 bludgeoning in Anaheim on April 28. But the hallmark of the Yankees’ unbelievable run has been late-inning drama. Incredibly, 6 of the 15 wins featured the go-ahead run in the ninth inning or later. It’s almost too many fairy tale endings to keep track of. Here is a recap of the 5 biggest hits of the hot streak by WPA.
5) May 6: Neil Walker RBI Double, 36% WPA
The aforementioned walk-off bomb from #GleyberGood wasn’t the biggest hit of the game. In fact, it wasn’t even the biggest hit of the inning! Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, Aaron Hicks starting things off with a double. Neil Walker followed with another line drive double to right field, tying the score. Walker’s hit was worth 36% WPA, increasing the Yankee odds of winning from 46% to 82%. After a groundout by Miguel Andujar and an intentional walk to Giancarlo Stanton, Torres increased the win expectancy from 71% to 100% with his moonshot to right-center.
4) May 4: Miguel Andujar Game-Winning Single, 36% WPA
The opening match of the Cleveland series was an emotional whirlwind. The Yankee bullpen blew a 5-0 lead in the top of the 8th inning, thanks to a three-run smash by Bradley Zimmer. In the bottom of the frame, the Yankees regained the lead with a two-out, bases loaded walk by Aaron Judge. However, Aroldis Chapman failed to shut the door, yielding a single to Yan Gomes, a HBP, and two wild pitches. With the score tied at 6 in the bottom of the ninth, Stanton led off with a double. Gary Sanchez flew out to right field and Hicks grounded out to the right side, advancing Stanton to third. Walker walked (which is a fun phrase to type), then took second on defensive indifference. That brought up Andujar, who slapped one into right field on a 1-2 count, scoring Stanton to win the game. The base hit was worth 36% WPA, but perhaps it should be penalized because Didi Gregorius was kicked in the head during the celebration. With all these dramatic wins, you’d think the team would know how to celebrate more safely.
3) April 27: Didi Gregorius 10th Inning Home Run, 38% WPA
In the first game of the road trip, the Yankees trailed the Angels 3-2 in the 9th inning. Brett Gardner hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game with the bases loaded and one out. David Robertson pitched a flawless bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. With one out in the 10th, Gregorius did this:
The blast increased the Yankees’ chances of winning from 44% to 82%. Chapman nailed down the victory in the bottom of the inning, 4-3 Yankees.
2) May 3: Gleyber Torres Two-Run Single, 39% WPA
Gleyber does make the cut after all! Astros closer Ken Giles was out of commission after getting blown up the day before (and perhaps nursing a bruised jaw), so Will Harris took on the Yankees in the top of the ninth with a 5-3 lead. He surrendered a walk to Walker (there it is again!) and singles to Andujar and Hicks to load the bases with no outs. Brad Peacock came in to face Torres, who lined a single to left to tie the game. Two batters later, Hicks scored on a groundout to give the Yankees the lead, which Chapman preserved for a victory. The Torres single was the big play, of course, improving the Yankees’ win expectancy from 42% to 81%.
1) April 26: UNLEASH THE KRAKEN, 66% WPA
When Sanchez stepped to bat in the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees had just a 34% chance of beating the Twins. They were trailing 3-1 with two men on base and no outs. His blast traveled 381 feet and miraculously stayed inside the foul pole. Everybody goes home, 4-3 Yankees. A WPA event of 30% or higher is rare. A 66% WPA event can almost exclusively be a come-from-behind, walk-off winner like Gary’s. Much like the Yankees’ entire hot streak, it should be savored and remembered.
Photo Credit: Adam Hunger / USA TODAY Sports