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MLB playoffs: Yankees' Gleyber Torres not scared of the big ALCS stage

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 10/13/2019 Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY
a pitcher throwing a ball on a baseball field: Gleyber Torres drove in five runs for the Yankees in Game 1. © Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images Gleyber Torres drove in five runs for the Yankees in Game 1.

HOUSTON -- Kids these days, they’ll sure say the darndest things.

It was New York Yankees second baseman Gleyber Torres’ responsibility to give the Yankees’ WWW-style championship belt to their player of the game Saturday, after hanging onto the belt since their last game Monday.

He sat down with teammate Aaron Judge on Saturday afternoon and broke the news.

He had no intention of giving it back.

“I’m going to win the belt again tonight,’’ he said.

Well, after terrorizing the Houston Astros all evening in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, driving in five runs in their 7-0 victory, no one may ever see it again.

“I don’t know,’’ Yankees first baseman D.J. LeMahieu said, “if he’s ever going to give it back. I hope he just keeps it."

Yep, like striking out in his first at-bat against Astros starter Zack Greinke, and then driving in a run every time he stepped to the plate the rest of the game. He had a run-scoring double in the third inning. A homer in the sixth. A two-run single in the seventh. A run-scoring groundout in the ninth.

By the time the smoke cleared, Torres, 22 years and 303 days old, became the youngest player in American League history to drive in five runs in a playoff game, and the third youngest in ALCS history to homer in the ALCS.

He joined Mickey Mantle as the youngest player in Yankee history to hit multiple homers in the postseason before turning 23.

This is a kid who hit 24 homers his rookie year, and for an encore, belted 38 homers with 90 RBI this season.

“He is so talented, just off the charts for such a young player,’’ Yankees veteran outfielder Brett Gardner says. “And I feel he’s going to continue to get better, which is kind of scary.’’

Torres looks as relaxed as a guy playing a spring-training game in Florida, showing absolutely no nerves or stress in this postseason, going 5-for-12 with three doubles, a homer, and four RBI in the AL Division Series against the Minnesota Twins.

“The guy’s a gamer,’’ said Judge. “He comes ready to play. It could be April 1 or it could be Oct. 10. It doesn’t matter. He comes ready to play."

Yes, a kid so young he even made a gesture rounding the bases during his home run, signalling as if it was time to be fitted again for the belt.

“I love it, man,’’ Judge said. “He plays with confidence. He plays with fun. He always has a smile on his face. You love seeing that. It pumps me up every single time.

“I want to see him do that every day.’’

 Why not?

When he was asked if he were surprised at his accomplishments just one year since becoming legal drinking age, he was almost stunned someone would even ask him such a silly question.

“I mean, not really,’’ he says. “During my career in the minor leagues I prepared really well myself for every situation last year. I take all the experience and now I just put all the experience in my game. Prepare really well to be here and help my team."

It’s as if he was made for Broadway, the bigger the stage, the brighter the lights, it’s Gleyber time.

“Smart, confident, and when you have talent,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone says, “that's a really good combination. He's always had that since he's come to the big leagues, and he just plays the game with kind of a free and easy way and a confidence about his game.

“He likes playing these situations and he's confident in his ability to produce.

“And that leads to a dangerous player.’’

Torres now is 8-for-17 in the postseason with two homers and eight RBI.

“It’s Gleyber Day,’’ Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius said. “It’s been like that. He always comes up clutch for the team. He’s playing like a veteran.

“His confidence level is always high.’’

Certainly, he symbolizes one of the greatest trades in Yankee history.

The Chicago Cubs were desperate for a closer in 2016, and traded Torres to the Yankees for All-Star Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman delivered the Cubs a World Series championship before returning to the Yankees as a free agent.

“He comes up every day clutch for the team,’’ Gregorius said. “He’s just doing his job. It’s not that we’re impressed. We always expect that from him.’’

And, yes, with full anticipation that he’ll be hanging onto that belt the rest of October.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB playoffs: Yankees' Gleyber Torres not scared of the big ALCS stage

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