Contributions Of Matt Carpenter And Jose Trevino Highlight Special Start For The New York Yankees

Nearly three weeks ago, the Yankees hit their first “crisis” of a charmed 60-game start when they actually lost three in a row and lost four games in the same week while also losing Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson to what became brief injured list stints.

Needing some kind of bat, the Yankees reached out to Matt Carpenter, whom Chicago Cubs fans might remember from such instances as the 25 homers he hit against them with the St. Louis Cardinals.

This was back on May 26 when Carpenter was a week removed from exercising an opt-out clause of his minor league deal with the Texas Rangers after he batted .275 with six homers and 19 RBIs in 21 games in the Pacific Coast League.

Less than three weeks later, Carpenter is highlighting the charmed life of this year’s edition of the Yankees. His two homers gave him six in 24 at-bats since joining the Yankees and continued an array of impressive things for a team whose 44 wins in 60 games are its best start since 1998.

Carpenter’s homers capped a dominant weekend for the Yankees, who wound outscoring the Cubs 26-4 in their final two games. It made him along with Trevor Story as the second player with six homers among their first seven hits with a team.

Perhaps even more impressive is Carpenter was not supposed to play but was inserted into the lineup when Gleyber Torres’ stomach issue moved DJ LeMahieu to second. And possibly even more notable is Carpenter made a pair of plate appearances since June 3, a fact that prompted manager Aaron Boone to quip:

“I put him in the garage for a week and pulled him out for a spin” Boone said before adding: “That’s impressive, what he’s done since he’s gotten here. Six homers now, and I think he’s hit probably three balls to the wall for outs. It’s just been a lot of really good at-bats.”

Carpenter does possess the track record of a productive player from hitting .262 with 155 homers in 11 seasons with the Cardinals. He likely would have enjoyed better numbers but significantly slumped to .169 with three homers and 21 RBIs in 207 at-bats last season.

Following last season’s nightmare, Carpenter rebuilt his swing and sought advice from Joey Votto. He then worked out at a baseball performance lab in Baton Rouge and hired a private hitting coach in California before taking swings with former teammate and 2017 Yankee Matt Holliday.

The idea was to regain the swing Carpenter seemingly saw go awry last season and now the 36-year-old knows it is back to normal and perhaps even better than previous years.

“I’ve played the game long enough to know what it feels like and looks like when I’m right,” Carpenter said. “This is certainly that. I can have competitive at-bats every time I get in there. It got away from me the last few years, but I was able to put in a lot of good work. A lot of people helped me get it back.”

Of course, Carpenter is hardly the only charmed story for the best team in baseball. Another is Jose Trevino, a late acquisition from the Texas Rangers in spring training when Ben Rortvedt was injured.

Trevino is well-regarded defensively and joined the Yankees as a career .245 hitter. Now he is a career .256 homer thanks to the .309 average through his first 97 at-bats as a Yankee.

Before the Yankees hit 10 homers in overwhelming the Cubs the past two games, Trevino delivered a game-ending single to end a four-hour, 16-minute marathon in the 13th. It turned out the hit occurred on his son’s fourth birthday and both of his game-ending hits were on significant dates for his family.

On May 24, he snapped the three-game “skid” with a game-ending single in the 11th to beat the Orioles and that hit came on what would have his father’s 69th birthday. At this rate, the Yankees should be asking if Trevino has any other birthdays in his family before sending him up for potential game-ending hits.

“I don’t know what everybody believes in, but I know what I believe in,” Trevino said Friday. “I believe I got a little extra help every time something like that happens.”

The Yankees are getting plenty of help from their stars such as Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, who are up to a combined 37 homers and 88 RBIs. They were prominently featured Saturday in a game when Trevino dinged a homer off the foul pole and also had three hits.

And to show the charmed nature of Yankee existence these days, Trevino’s hit occurred the night after the Yankees survived Gerrit Cole allowing five homers and stormed back for a 10-7 win in Minnesota.

After last year’s tedious march to 92 wins filled with inconsistent offense, the Yankees are living the charmed existence and getting linked to the 1998 team on a daily basis with players such as Carpenter and Trevino highlighting things.