While tapping second base to record the game-ending forceout that clinched the American League Division Series for the New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres added a motion that had just become all the rave at Yankee Stadium.
Torres cradled his arms together and swung them back and forth in rocking-the-baby fashion, all while glaring at Josh Naylor and the Cleveland Guardians dugout.
In that moment, Torres thought back to what he had witnessed from his position in the Progressive Field infield the game before — and remembered the feeling of disrespect.
“We got our revenge. We’re happy to beat those guys. Now they can watch on TV the next series for us,” Torres said amid a champagne celebration in the Yankee clubhouse after New York polished off a 5-1 victory in Tuesday night’s decisive Game 5. “It’s nothing personal. Just a little thing about revenge.”
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Little could Naylor have known that he had served up — silver-platter style — an added, unexpected jolt of inspiration in the Yankees’ quest to extend their postseason.
After homering in the fourth inning of Sunday’s Game 4 in Cleveland, Naylor made the rocking-the-baby motion repeatedly while giddily rounding the bases and taunting Yankees starting pitcher Gerrit Cole. He even referred to Cole as his “son” during his jog to home plate.
Much like Torres, the 48,178 fans who filled Yankee Stadium on Tuesday didn’t forget that post-homer display. They greeted Naylor with a familiar earful — a phrase that first rang out across the street at the old Yankee Stadium in 2004.
“Who’s your daddy?”
While he went 0-for-4 with one hard-hit, rally-stalling lineout, Naylor ultimately relished the experience of playing Bronx villain.
“That was awesome. That was so sick,” Naylor said of the fans’ reception. “That was honestly like a dream come true as a kid — playing in an environment like this where they’ve got diehard fans, it’s cool.
“The fact I got that going through the whole stadium, that was sick.”
Tuesday’s chant first started as Naylor began jogging back to the Guardians’ dugout following a second-inning flyout to Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge. By the time he reached the top step, the chant swelled to levels reminiscent of the time Yankees fans chanted the same query to Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez during the 2004 ALCS.
Prior to the taunts to Martinez, the Red Sox pitcher had referred to the Yankees as his “daddy.” Later that postseason, the Red Sox, led by Martinez, went on to break an 86-year drought by winning the World Series.
“I knew they would come up with something, and I kind of figured it was that chant,” Naylor said. “If anything, it kind of motivates me. It’s fun to kind of play under pressure. It’s fun to play when everyone’s against you and when the world’s against you. It’s extremely fun.
“That’s why you play this game at the highest level or try to get to the highest level: to play against opponents like the Yankees or against the Astros or whoever the case is. They all have great fanbases and they all want their home team to win, and it’s cool to kind of play in that type of spotlight and in that pressure.”
Naylor also acknowledged seeing Torres’ mocking postgame celebration, but wasn’t upset about it.
“I mean, you do what you’ve got to do,” Naylor said. “Better win it all. Do what you’ve got to do.”
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