Estevan Florial has first career HR as depleted Yankees top Phillies
For Estevan Florial and Yankees fans who love a good prospect – even one who is hitting .214 in the minors – Tuesday’s callup to the big leagues was a long time coming.
It took the Yankees putting six outfielders on the injured list before the 23-year-old Florial got the call for more than a quick look-see.
Playing in his third major league game, Florial hit his first career home run and drove in two runs in the Yankees’ 6-4 victory over the Phillies at the Stadium.
Florial drove in the Yankees’ first run with a groundout in the third inning. He drove in (and scored) the final run with a line drive home run to the short porch in right in the eighth.
"The guy’s got loads of talent and tonight he was really good," manager Aaron Boone said.
Florial’s home run was the Yankees’ fourth solo shot on the night. Florial said he got the ball, got it signed by his teammates, and is keeping it. He also said his first thought while rounding the bases was of a pregame conversation with his wife, who teased him about possibly hitting a home run.
"It’s everything I have dreamed about," Florial said. "To come here, to play in the big leagues. Most of all, help the team. It’s what I did."
In winning their third straight game with a makeshift lineup that did not include late scratch DJ LeMahieu (stomach virus), the Yankees also got solo home runs from Brett Gardner (the tiebreaker in the fifth inning), Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton.
The Yankees used six pitchers to hold down the Phillies, with Luis Cessa (3-1) getting the win in relief of Domingo German. Aroldis Chapman picked up his 17th save and first since June 20 despite allowing a run in the ninth on Andrew McCutchen’s one-out home run.
Chapman struck out the side, including the final two batters on six pitches after the home run.
An unexpected part of the victory was the Yankees using their legs to generate offense.
It happened in the third inning with the Yankees trailing 1-0. New fan favorite Greg Allen banged a ball off the rightfield wall and sprinted for a triple. Allen scored when Florial hit a hard grounder to first.
It happened again in the fifth with the Yankees trailing 2-1. Allen walked, stole second, moved to third on Florial’s deep fly to center, and scored when Didi Gregorius – after snaring a liner hit by Tyler Wade – threw wildly to third in attempt to double up Allen.
"The home run ball showed up for us tonight for four different guys," Boone said. "But the little ball was there . . Guys are having fun playing the game and doing a good job of it."
Gardner hit the go-ahead shot to the first row in right-center in the fifth to make it 3-2. Sanchez hit a moon shot to the back of the leftfield bleachers in the sixth and Stanton sent a laser into the leftfield bleachers in the seventh for his first home run since July 6.
Florial has been called up on three other occasions over the past two seasons, but had only appeared in two games, going 2-for-6.
The Yankees had resisted calling him up through all their earlier injuries and COVID issues. Finally, Trey Amburgey was placed on the 10-day IL with a hamstring strain and the call went for the lefthanded-batting Florial, who was hitting .214 with 12 HRs with 68 strikeouts in 240 plate appearances combined for Scranton and Double-A Somerset.
The knock on Florial has been the strikeouts. On Tuesday, he made hard contact and also drew a four-pitch walk against lefthander Jose Alvarado in the sixth.
"The quality of the at-bats was there," Boone said. "Patient walk against a tough lefty. The flyball that he hits well to center and gets the guy to third with less than two outs. Obviously, the ground ball hit pretty hard for the RBI and then to get his first home run. Results, yes, but really good at-bats, too. It wasn't an accident. We know that's what he's capable of and hopefully he can continue to kind of give us that shot in the arm."