Yankees’ loss to Twins, Gleyber Torres clutch strikeout fall on umpires

Jun 30, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) before the game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 30, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres (25) before the game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Should Gleyber Torres have strode to the plate in the ninth inning Friday hunting a walk rather than looking to swing the bat? Debatable. The Yankees second baseman has regressed tremendously in the second half, and every pessimist in the building was smelling a double play. Twins hurler Michael Fulmer has occasional trouble with the strike zone, and nearly walked Ronald Guzmán with the bases loaded in extras the day before.

The lack of aggression was obvious, but ensuring the game got to Isiah Kiner-Falefa in some capacity wasn’t the worst strategy.

Unfortunately, we’ll never be able to give Torres the flowers he deserved for holding up on two tough pitches in a 2-0 count, because home plate umpire Larry Vanover neutered the AB and called them both strikes. Pitch three was borderline. Pitch four was nowhere close.

Did the Yankees lose this game because of factors outside their control? I know you guys are probably reading a rhetorical device like that waiting for the baked-in answer to be, “No” (and, to be fair, this short-handed offense went 1-for-8 with RISP). But … well … yes. When it came right down to it, they did not control their fate Thursday night.

The Yankees’ participation in the eighth and ninth innings was rendered irrelevant by some astounding umpiring decisions, and the two ball-strikes to Torres were the capper, thanks to home plate umpire Larry Vanover.

Yankees should’ve tied Thursday’s loss on Gleyber Torres walk

The only thing more insufferable than complaining about umpiring is watching bad umpiring. And Thursday was the worst of all.

Torres wasn’t the first Yankee hitter to watch two-seamers miss the outside corner by three or four inches and be penalized, either. Vanover was on a mission in the late innings to induce contact (or, at least, swings) by any means necessary. In the bottom of the eighth, Torres reached base following Aaron Judge’s leadoff double after “Ball 4” was called Strike 2, followed by a clear Strike 3 being called the actually Ball 4 in a make-up call for the ages.

Vanover didn’t necessarily favor one team in his malfeasance, but it was malfeasance just the same.

And oh, wait, what about the reason the Yankees faced a deficit in the ninth inning in the first place?!

The Bombers were locked in a 2-2 game in the eighth until Wandy Peralta had the audacity to nearly miss the first base bag, then strike it fully with his toe. Sadly, first base umpire Alex Tosi was distracted by Peralta’s initial stomp, ruling Jake Cave safe even though the toe beat him by a foot and a half.

No matter. A replay review would surely clear things up, right? Well…

Given the chance to crack open the play one more time, the overseers in New York suddenly had to parse every element of Peralta’s journey to the bag. Turns out, though the throw and toe tap both beat Cave, Peralta bobbled the ball for a bit before gathering it and pinning it … in his glove? Against his glove? It was somewhat unclear.

If Tosi had ruled Cave out, there was no chance the umpires could’ve overturned the call and determined where the bobble landed. But since he ruled him safe, the bobble created an additional complicating factor that the umpires couldn’t justify overruling, either.

And then Carlos Correa homered.

It took heaven, earth and Larry Vanover bending over backwards to get the Twins even a single win in this four-game set, and was it really reasonable to expect this depleted Yankees lineup to take all four games from a borderline playoff team?

Yet, somehow, what should’ve been an oasis in a two-month stretch of failure was soured at the finish line yet again by something beyond the Yankees’ control. If only they weren’t missing six-ninths of their lineup, they might’ve been able to persevere anyway.