SEATTLE (AP) — Gleyber Torres is clearly the hottest Yankees hitter at the plate this month.
Little-known Mike Ford isn’t far behind.
Torres hit his 13th home run in August, Ford went deep twice and New York beat the Seattle Mariners 5-4 on Monday night.
The Yankees added to their record-setting month of bashing home runs with one from their young All-Star and a pair from an undrafted player out of Princeton who is finally getting his chance at regular at-bats due to injuries. In his last 12 games, Ford is hitting .353 with five home runs.
“I’ve always been confident. That’s not saying this league isn’t really hard. But I’ve always been confident in my ability to hit and it’s what has gotten me to this point, so you can’t lose that edge,” Ford said.
Torres launched his 33rd homer of the season on the first pitch of the second inning from Tommy Milone, who took over after Matt Wisler was used as an opener. It was the start of a four-run rally for the AL East leaders in which 10 batters came to the plate. Austin Romine had an RBI single and Ford added the big blow with a two-run shot down the right field line.
Ford, previously a Rule 5 pick by the Mariners and later returned to the Yankees, added a solo homer in the fourth, his eighth of the season. The three home runs boosted the Yankees’ total to 64 in August, a major league record for any month.
Ford also connected Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
“He’s really taking advantage of an opportunity now like so many of our guys have throughout the year,” manager Aaron Boone said.
Milone (3-8) allowed eight hits and five runs in five innings.
New York starter J.A. Happ permitted just two hits, but a high pitch count ended his night after five innings. One of the hits was a three-run homer by Dylan Moore, his second long ball in two days. Happ (11-8) struck out seven and walked three.
Boone considered sending Happ back out for the sixth.
“I felt I could have gone out and given us a little bit more but understood where we were at to go the way we did,” Happ said.
Mallex Smith hit a solo shot in the seventh off reliever Nestor Cortes Jr., his first homer since June 16. But the Yankees’ bullpen was otherwise solid. Tommy Kahnle worked a perfect eighth and Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for his 36th save.
“Their bullpen is really good. You know that coming into the series and you have to stay after it,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius sat out a day after getting hit by a pitch in the right shoulder. Boone said Gregorius was sore but the hope was he would return to the lineup Tuesday. … OF Cameron Maybin was also out as he’s been dealing with a sore left wrist. … OF-DH Giancarlo Stanton, sidelined since late June with a knee injury, has been doing agility work and could hit on the field during the series in Seattle. Boone was hopeful Stanton could start rehab games by the end of this week.
Mariners: RHP Brandon Brennan threw a bullpen as he continues to work back from a shoulder strain. Brennan likely won’t rejoin the team until rosters expand in September.
The sixth inning was briefly delayed as umpires questioned the delivery of New York reliever Cory Gearrin. Umpires said Gearrin’s toe-tap delivery was illegal. Gearrin, who pitched for Seattle until being claimed off waivers last week by the Yankees, had a similar issue earlier in the season with the Mariners. He was told after that game his delivery was legal.
Boone said the Yankees will seek clarity from Major League Baseball about what the right-hander can do going forward.
“I was told that it is legal. Really just have to get some sort of understanding,” Gearrin said. “I’m sure we’re going to reach out to the league and get some sort of clarification. As it was told to me earlier in the year, what I’m doing is totally fine. But the ruling they make during the game is what you have to play off of.”
Seattle RF Keon Broxton was ejected by plate umpire Manny Gonzalez after striking out looking in the second inning. Broxton threw his bat down, flipped his helmet off and threw one of his batting gloves behind him after a disputed third strike call. The batting glove appeared to hit Gonzalez, and Broxton was immediately ejected for the first time in his career.
Broxton was replaced by Smith, who was using the bathroom when the ejection happened.
“I ran downstairs, I was buckling up my pants. I actually had to wash my hands after the inning. That’s a real thing,” Smith said.
It’s a matchup of Japanese stars as Masahiro Tanaka starts for the Yankees and Yusei Kikuchi returns to the rotation for the Mariners. Tanaka (9-7, 4.68 ERA) has won two of his past three decisions but lost his last start against Oakland. Kikuchi (5-8, 5.19) is coming off a two-hitter against Toronto on Aug. 18.
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