The Yankees' Matt Carpenter watches the ball as he runs...

The Yankees' Matt Carpenter watches the ball as he runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the sixth inning of a game against the Cubs on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. Credit: AP/Mary Altaffer

Only the Yankees, this nearly invincible 2022 version, can afford to take a guy who homers practically every time up, stick him on the bench and leave him there for more than a week, as they did with Matt Carpenter.

“I put him in the garage,” Aaron Boone said, smiling, “then pulled him out for a spin.”

And even that “spin” almost didn’t happen for Sunday’s series finale against the Cubs. But with Gleyber Torres a late scratch because of illness and Jose Trevino bothered by a sore back, Boone decided to give Carpenter his first start in the field as a Yankee -- at third base -- in the third and final version of his shuffled lineup.

As usual, Carpenter made his manager look like a genius (not to mention general manager Brian Cashman for acquiring him last month). He drilled a pair of home runs, drew a bases-loaded walk and added a run-scoring double to finish with seven RBIs in the Yankees’ 18-4 rout (and sweep) of the Cubs.

But that monster afternoon is only the latest chapter in Carpenter’s journey from Rangers spring training camp to Triple-A Round Rock to his living room couch to finally putting on pinstripes. Upon his May 26 arrival at Tropicana Field, Carpenter cheerily volunteered to “put bags on the plane” if that’s what Boone needed him to do.

Instead, Carpenter has been making baseballs disappear at a head-spinning rate. Of his eight hits in 24 at-bats, he has six home runs, a bunt single and Sunday’s RBI double, along with 13 RBIs in 10 games.

By comparison, the Tigers -- all of them combined -- have five homers since Carpenter took his first swings on May 26, in a total of 479 at-bats.

That he’s now doing more damage than the entire Detroit franchise was not something Carpenter envisioned on this winter’s comeback trail (with the help of Joey Votto) to rediscover his All-Star swing after the Cardinals cut him loose by declining his $18.5 million option. The Rangers granted Carpenter his   release from Round Rock because they didn’t have a spot for him (oops), and all he’s done since coming to the Bronx is destroy opposing pitchers.

According to Elias, Carpenter is only the second player in the modern era (since 1900) to have six home runs in his first seven hits with a team, joining Trevor Story, who did it for the Rockies in 2016. Sunday’s seven RBIs also matched his career high from 2018, which also was against the Cubs -- hardly surprising for a former Cardinal.

“I don’t really have words for it,” Carpenter said. “I obviously feel good at the plate, got my swing where I want it and just trying to go out and execute. I’ve been able to put a couple of good swings on balls lately.”

That’s the understatement of the season to this point. Imagine if Boone took him out of the garage more often?

Carpenter is a former three-time All-Star, has a Silver Slugger award on his resume and  twice placed in the top 10 in the NL MVP balloting. Evidently, at age 36, the talent is still there. It was just a matter of polishing those skills again, and Carpenter seemingly has turned back the clock to 2018, when he hammered a career-high 36 homers for the Cardinals.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I certainly feel good. I’ve played the game long enough to know what it feels like and looks like when I’m right. And this is certainly that . . . It kind of got away from me the last few years. I just didn’t really have it. So it’s pretty rewarding to be able to do it in New York City for the best team in baseball.”

At the moment, despite the supernatural power surge, Carpenter very much remains on a part-time plan. But he enjoyed the chance to start at third base, along with hearing his name during the roll call, and Carpenter made two solid defensive plays in the cameo.

One of the things that stood out to Boone was Carpenter’s ability to have quality at-bats regardless of the extended layoff, a valuable asset for a bench player (his previous six starts were at DH).

“That’s how we kind of envisioned the role initially,” Boone said. “But things always come up that put you right back in the middle where you’re playing every day. The ebbs and flows of the season will dictate that, but I’m excited that we got such a good player in a really good place as a big part of this.”

The feeling is mutual. Carpenter sounds as if he can’t believe his luck in landing with the Yankees, a team that already is putting together a historic season. Just think if he played on a more regular basis. At this pace, he’d have the home run record by the end of August.

“He can put a ball in the seats with the best of them,” Jameson Taillon said.

On these Yankees, Carpenter shares the lineup with those names. And fits right in. 

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