Michael King’s success eases pain of Aroldis Chapman’s woes


BALTIMORE — Aroldis Chapman is floundering, having allowed runs in four straight appearances, but the Yankees bullpen as a whole is still thriving.

Michael King is a big part of that and the right-hander’s dominance was on full display in a 5-4 win over the Orioles on Tuesday night, when he retired all nine batters he faced. He struck out six after coming on to replace Jameson Taillon with a runner on second and no one out in the bottom of the sixth.

King got out of that jam and mowed down the other hitters he saw.

“He’s one of the best relievers in the league, especially when you consider the amount of innings we’ve been able to get from him,’’ manager Aaron Boone said. “Really impact innings.”

King has made no secret that he’d like to be a starter again, but he’s taken to the role he’s in now.

Aroldis Chapman and Michael King
USA TODAY Sports; Getty Images

“If [Boone] thinks I’m valuable out of the pen, I’ll gladly do it,” King said. “If the time comes when he wants me to start, I’ll do it. I want to help the team win in as many ways as possible.”

Lately, the Yankees have been winning in spite of Chapman.

Boone said the lefty, who has battled command problems for much of the season, was “maybe a tick off’’ on Tuesday, when he gave up three hits in an outing for the first time.

Boone said he didn’t consider removing Chapman for Clay Holmes before Chapman got Cedric Mullins to pop out on a 97 mph four-seamer to end the game with the potential winning runs on base.

Gleyber Torres had two more hits Tuesday, a day after he reached base four times.

It’s the latest in a recent uptick in results for the second baseman, who also made a nice defensive play Monday to help prevent a Baltimore rally in the first inning of the Yankees’ win.

Torres has nine hits, four runs, a homer, five RBIs and three walks in his past six games and has two more games (Wednesday and Thursday) at Camden Yards — a place where he has hit well throughout his career.

His OPS had jumped from .654 on May 10 to .729 entering Tuesday.

“He hit better than his numbers suggest,’’ Boone said of Torres, who had not been rewarded with results through most of the first month of the regular season. “The quality of contact is absolutely where it was [earlier in his career]. That dates back to spring training when he was having good at-bats from the get-go.”

Torres struggled with his balance at the plate each of the last two seasons, but he has been better this year, which made Boone confident the hits would come.

And no doubt the move back to second base from shortstop has helped, as well.

“He’s playing well, so I’m sure he is a little more relaxed,’’ Boone said. “He’s playing the position well… and he’s probably more comfortable there.”

Boone also said he is pleased with how Torres has responded after two straight subpar seasons.

“I think it is motivating,’’ Boone said of how Torres played the previous two years. “He’s taking advantage of his experience.”

Two of the players who came over in the trade that sent Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to the Twins are hitting well at the same time.

Josh Donaldson, in addition to playing excellent defense at third base lately, has three homers in his past six games. He went 1-for-4 with a run Tuesday.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa has also hit well on the current road trip, going 6-for-17 with three runs, two walks and a pair of stolen bases. He has hit better away from Yankee Stadium throughout his first season in The Bronx.

Aaron Hicks didn’t start Tuesday (though he came in for defense in the ninth inning) as the regulars continue to rest during the Yankees’ stretch of 23 games in 22 days.

Unlike much of the rest of the lineup, Hicks has not gotten going at all this year and is in the midst of a 2-for-29 stretch, with one extra-base hit, two RBIs, seven walks and eight strikeouts.

His numbers from the left side (.560 OPS) have been especially rough.

“He’s doing what he does to control the zone and getting on base as he’s trying to find his way a little bit,’’ Boone said. “Hopefully he continues to do that while hopefully catching fire a little bit and getting to where he’s making consistently hard contact.”

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