MINNEAPOLIS — Target Field had already started to roar.
The ball shot off Eddie Rosario’s bat and got through the infield, with Jake Cave rounding third and heading for home as the sellout crowd of 41,121 could sense the Twins finally breaking through with two outs in the fifth inning.
But they did not see Gleyber Torres.
The Yankees second baseman was set up in the shift in shallow right field and smoothly moved over to his left. He slid on the grass to field the ball, spun around and threw to first base, where DJ LeMahieu scooped it to end the inning, and effectively, the Twins’ season.
Torres finished 3-for-4 with a home run, two doubles and three runs scored Monday, but it was the budding superstar’s glove that set another sterling night apart as the Yankees topped the Twins 5-1 and swept the ALDS.
“He’s the next Yankee great,” Aaron Judge said. “I can’t even believe some of the stuff he does. Defensively making plays for us, coming up with a big hit whenever we need it. Man, he’s the next Yankee great, for sure.”
Torres’ fielding gem — which robbed Rosario of a hit and an RBI on a ball that had an expected batting average of .530 — was enough to earn a fist pump from the normally stoic Larry Rothschild inside the Yankees dugout. It ended an inning in which the Yankees needed three different relievers to record three outs and keep the 2-0 lead intact, stranding two runners.
Torres cited his offseason work in Tampa, which began back in December, focused on improving his defense after committing 17 errors as a rookie last year.
“I wanted to prepare. I wanted to make sure all the ground balls I made errors [on] last year, I wanted to clean everything [up],” Torres said. “I just prepare really well and do a really good job defensively.”
Judge had called it before the series even began, predicting “something special” from the 22-year-old in the postseason. Torres is already on his way, going 5-for-12 with three doubles, a home run and four RBIs in the ALDS, not to mention his defensive wizardry. He had at least one RBI in every game, and now the ALCS awaits.
“Can’t wait to see what he does next series,” Judge said.
Torres got his big night started in the second inning, when he crushed the first pitch he saw from Jake Odorizzi to left field. The ball got just beyond the reach of a leaping Cave at the wall for the 1-0 lead. He later added doubles in the seventh and ninth innings, coming around to score both times and adding a stolen base to complete his masterpiece.
“Real special player,” LeMahieu said. “No moment is too big for him. Heck of a game he played, heck of a series.”