NEW YORK (AP) — Move over, Mickey Mantle.
Gleyber Torres is the latest Yankees phenom earning his pinstripes right off the bat.
On a day when hits were hard to come by in the Bronx, the rookie second baseman became the youngest Yankees player to hit a walk-off homer, a three-run shot in the ninth inning that gave New York a 7-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Sunday for its 15th victory in 16 games.
At 21 years and 144 days, Torres bettered Mantle, who was 21 years and 185 days when he hit three-run, ninth-inning drive off Boston’s Ellis Kinder in a 6-3 win on April 23, 1953.
“He’s been special,” smiling manager Aaron Boone said about Torres.
Domingo German pitched six hitless innings in his first major league start for the Yankees, who nonetheless fell behind 4-0 when Cleveland broke through against relievers Dellin Betances and Jonathan Holder. Yonder Alonso’s leadoff single against Betances in the eighth was the first hit for the scuffling Indians, who have lost seven of 10.
But after managing only one hit themselves against a stellar Mike Clevinger, the streaking Yankees fought back to win their sixth straight and finish a three-game sweep. New York also took the final three games of last year’s playoff series between the teams.
“We could have easily packed it in here today after the four-run eighth and we didn’t do that,” first baseman Neil Walker said. “Days like today and really this whole weekend are signs of a really good team.”
Clevinger went 7 1/3 innings in his first start against the Yankees, setting career highs with 10 strikeouts and 116 pitches. He issued two of his four walks in the eighth as New York rallied.
Short in the bullpen, Cleveland manager Terry Francona called on closer Cody Allen, looking for a five-out save. Allen gave up a two-out RBI single to Brett Gardner and an opposite-field, two-run double to right by Aaron Judge before retiring Gary Sanchez with two on.
Aaron Hicks and Walker, who began the day batting .182, opened the ninth with consecutive doubles to tie it and chase Allen (2-1). One out later, pinch-hitter Giancarlo Stanton was intentionally walked, and Torres drove a full-count pitch from Dan Otero over the center-field fence.
“That was a rough one,” Allen said.
Torres, who connected for his first big league homer Friday night, raised one arm and turned back toward the New York dugout after rounding first base. He was mobbed and doused by excited teammates at home plate.
“It’s like a big family right here and I enjoy that,” Torres said.
Torres, who also made two outstanding defensive plays, is the first position player since 1900 to start and win 14 of his first 15 major league games.
“Everybody knew what kind of talent Gleyber has. That’s not a secret,” Sanchez said through a translator.
Chasen Shreve (2-0) struck out two in a perfect ninth for the win.
The 15-1 stretch matched the Yankees’ best 16-game run since 1980. Three of their last four home games have been walk-off wins, and the Yankees (24-10) are off to their best start overall since 2003.
“They’re a team that’s really dangerous right now,” Francona said.
After winning their ninth consecutive home game, the club’s best streak in eight years, next up is a Yankee Stadium showdown with the rival Red Sox for first place in the AL East. A three-game series between the top two teams in the majors begins Tuesday night.
Tyler Naquin’s RBI single and Francisco Lindor’s RBI double keyed Cleveland’s four-run burst in the eighth. The Indians also scored on Sanchez’s sixth passed ball this season and Jason Kipnis’ sacrifice fly.
Until the eighth, Hicks’ leadoff single in the fifth against Clevinger was the only hit in a scoreless game.
“It was like he was going out there, five minutes later I was back out there, then five minutes later he was back out there,” Clevinger said. “I think it really kept us both in a good rhythm.”
German was removed after 84 pitches, 23 more than his previous high this season, which came in relief Tuesday at Houston. The 25-year-old rookie, who stepped into the rotation for injured Jordan Montgomery, struck out nine and walked two.
“He was so efficient, attacking so much,” Boone said.
Betances worked a 1-2-3 seventh before giving up three straight singles starting the eighth.