Gleyber Torres propels Yankees past Blue Jays

Gleyber Torres sent a gliding fastball, started running toward first base, and raised his right arm just about as a young boy in the front row of the right-field short porch caught the ball on the fly.

Torres followed up his three-run home run with a two-run single and led the surging Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 on Wednesday for their 15th win in 17 games.

“My swing is getting better and better,” Torres said. “I think the confidence is back, and that’s the most important thing for me.”

A heralded phenom who is just 25 years old, Torres came to the Yankees in 2018 and became an All-Star in each of his first two seasons, hitting 62 home runs. But he slumped for the next two seasons, totaling just 12 long balls.

“I had too many chances to do things for my team and I missed them. I failed,” Torres said.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone benched Torres for six of the first 25 games this season, including on Opening Day, when Torres’ sacrificial volley in the 10th helped the Yankees beat Boston.

Torres hit a game-ending single against Cleveland on April 23, a home run in Sunday’s doubles opener against Texas, and had all the runs in the series finale against the Blue Jays.

Torres has 16 RBIs in his last 15 games and four homers in his last 11. Overall, he’s batting .222 with 18 RBIs and five homers — four in the opposite field.

“I think it’s a bit mechanical. I think it’s a bit of maturity, I think it’s a bit of work and routine,” said Boone, who cited Torres for aligning his hips and lower body better this season. “He had to struggle for some playing time here at the start of the year, and he responded to that in a way that you would hope.”

The Yankees completed a two-game sweep to win their seventh straight series and improved to a major league-leading 22-8, their best 30-game start since 2003. The Yankees are 13-0 when they score five points or more.

“We won in a lot of different ways,” Boone said. “A few days ago it was all about throwing, maybe a basic running game. We had our handful of games where we scored a bunch of points and had some explosive games. And we gave up and found ways late. … It’s built a lot of confidence in this room, that we know we don’t have to lean on one thing on any given night.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he would not publicly discuss whether contract talks were underway with Aaron Judge. The outfielder is eligible for arbitration, with a possible hearing until June 24, and can become a free agent after the World Series. The judge dismissed an eight-year contract worth $230.5-234.5 million, with the difference determined in arbitration for this year’s salary, and said he had no l intend to negotiate again before the end of the season.

WASHINGTON — Nationals manager Dave Martinez had seen encouraging signs from Nelson Cruz, who was signed this offseason to provide veteran muscle behind Juan Soto, but has struggled so far. Soto said Cruz’s consistently positive attitude sustained the team during their difficult start.

Both were thrilled to see what Cruz did on Wednesday night, an unmistakably three-point blast to left center field as the Nationals pounced on Tylor Megill and the Mets in first place in an 8-3 victory.

“It was a long way,” Soto said of Cruz’s circuit, which covered about 436 feet. “It’s great to see him hit the ball like that.”

Soto hit a two-run homer in the Nationals’ first five-run inning as Washington dispatched Megill on the first outing of his career.

“He has a pretty good fastball. I know he’s going to throw it,” Soto said. “He threw me four in a row, and I won’t let him throw me five in a row by me.”

Cruz, who hit .170 with three home runs, followed in the second with his 453rd career home run, passing Carl Yastrzemski for 39th all-time.

Megill (4-2) walked the next batter and his night was over. He recorded four outs while allowing eight runs on eight hits with a walk and a batted hitter, losing his second straight start as his ERA fell from 2.43 to 4.41. The sophomore right-hander’s previous shortest outing came on Sept. 15, when he allowed six runs over three innings in a loss to St. Louis.

“A release like this, bad as it is, can’t really dwell on it,” Megill said. “Obviously it was a bad outing, but I’m capable of so much more. I’m not going to let this one define me.

The Mets lost by five or more runs for the third time this season and will need to win Thursday’s rubber game against their last-place rival to avoid dropping a series for the first time. The Mets have won eight series and split one.

Box scores and summaries of the rest of Wednesday’s matches.

CHICAGO — The Cleveland Guardians are dealing with a coronavirus outbreak that sidelined manager Terry Francona and several of the team’s coaches, prompting the postponement of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

Shortly after Francona’s positive test became known, Major League Baseball said there were “several positive COVID-19 tests” across the Cleveland organization and canceled Wednesday’s series finale for allow more testing and contact tracing.

This is the first coronavirus-related postponement since the start of the season on April 7.

DeMarlo Hale, a Guardians bench coach who was slated to replace Francona, also tested positive, and Cleveland has “several coaches and other team support staff” infected with the virus, according to the carrier. word of the Bart Swain team.

At this point, it’s unclear who will lead the Guardians when they open a three-game series at Minnesota on Friday. It’s likely the team will bring in multiple minor league coaches and field coordinators for the series.

The Guardians are off Thursday. The team has established its rotation for the Twins series, with Aaron Civale starting Friday, followed by Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie. Civale was due to start on Wednesday.

Francona, 63, who has faced serious health issues for the past two seasons, tested positive for the virus hours before the scheduled first pitch. The team said he currently has no symptoms.

Lance B. Holton