by Howie Karpin/The NY Extra/thenyextra.com
It’s going to take a lot more of these, but the Yankees hope this three game winning streak is the beginning of a run to get back into the American League playoff race.
The Yankees topped the Phillies 6-4 at Yankee Stadium last night, their third straight win and 8th in their last 11 games, but it was the way they won that was the eye opener. The Yankees used an infusion of speed and a majority of left handed hitters in their lineup to produce a more balanced and entertaining offense.
Six left handed hitters were interspersed throughout the lineup. Even though most of them are not starting players, the left handed bats gave Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola something else to think about and he was not able to dominate the Yankees as he did earlier in the season. Manager Aaron Boone noticed the difference. “They grinded him [Nola] down a little bit, and made it really tough on him and we were able to ding him there and knock him out. It’s been a fun brand of baseball here the past few days,” he said on the post game zoom.
Journeyman outfielder and left hand hitting Greg Allen has been a spark and he continued to provide that last night. Trailing 1-0 in the third, Allen tripled over the head of Phils right fielder Bryce Harper and scored on Estevan Florial’s ground out. Florial, who was recalled from the minors and started in center field, did a good job making contact against Phillies ace Aaron Nola to produce the run.
The Yankees were trailing 2-1 in the fifth when Allen led off with a walk, stole second and moved to third on a deep fly ball to center by Florial. With the Phillies playing the infield in and one out, Tyler Wade hit a liner to Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius. The former Yankee caught the ball and tried to double up Allen at third, but he threw it past third-baseman and former Yankee Ronald Torreyes and that allowed the tying run to score. Brett Gardner followed with the first of four Yankee home runs that made it a 3-2 lead after five.
Boone appreciates having Allen’s speed threat in the lineup. “It’s come into play for us and helped us win a couple of ballgames,” Boone said. “A couple of stolen bases for him, the ability to get to third on that ball that kicks off the wall. It’s definitely been a factor in helping us win some ballgames.”
In the 6th, Gary Sanchez’ mammoth home run gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Giancarlo Stanton hit his 16th HR in the seventh and Florial added his first major league round tripper in the 8th to complete the Yankees’ scoring. The 22-year old was thrilled to make a contribution. “That was great. The atmosphere, the fans,” Florial said on the post game zoom. “I haven’t played around all those fans. To be able to play in front of them, to hit my first homer, that was great.”
The offense came through with enough runs to give the bullpen a chance to close it out and the Yankees had to be pleased with what they got from Chad Green, Zack Britton and Aroldis Chapman.
Green entered the game with a 4-2 lead, one out in the 7th and runners on first and third. After a walk to Andrew McCutchen loaded the bases, Green struck out Rhys Hoskins and Gregorius to snuff out the rally.
Britton has had trouble finding his command since he came off the IL and he created a jam in the 8th.
After Brad Miller struck out, three straight singles off Britton narrowed the Yankee lead to 5-3 but he made a big pitch to J.T. Realmuto with the tying runs on base and got a huge inning ending 1-4-3 double play.
The Yankees had to be holding their collective breaths when Chapman entered the game with a three run lead and it didn’t start well.
The hard throwing left hander threw three straight fastballs out of the zone to Harper, who was the first batter he faced, but Chapman rebounded to strike out the Phillies right fielder with two of the best sliders that he’s thrown in weeks. McCutchen ran into an inside fastball for a home run to cut the lead to 6-4, but Chapman was in rhythm and he finished off the save by striking out Hoskins and Gregorius to end it.
Boone feels Chapman has turned the corner. “Another really good step forward,” he said. “To fall
behind 3-0 against Harper and then just make some really good pitches against him was huge. I thought [Chapman] really got locked in with his delivery. Pounded the zone, we saw the velocity up. Overpowered Hoskins and then the same with Didi. I think he just got in a really good place with his delivery.”
The Yankees can’t expect the “B lineup” they’re putting out there to get them on a big time run. In the meantime, they’re winning some games and we’ll see where it goes from here.