So this is how the Yankees’ season gets saved?
With Greg Allen’s legs, Estevan Florial’s power, Tyler Wade’s glove and whoever else is healthy enough to take over at the last minute when someone inevitably gets sick or bruised or broken, as DJ LeMahieu (stomach bug) did shortly before Tuesday’s first pitch against the Philles?
For the record, it was the backup catcher Rob Brantly who started for LeMahieu at first base, only because Chris Gittens — the usual fill-in for the understudy to the replacement — came down with an Achilles tendon problem, an issue that wasn’t revealed until after Tuesday night’s 6-4 victory over the surging Phillies, another game they should have lost on paper going against Aaron Nola.
"It’s kind of like, what else can you throw at us?" Aaron Boone said. "We were kind of talking through maybe having Gary [Sanchez] play first or Rougie [Odor], but Brantly’s played a few games at Triple-A at first base, so we were just like, let’s go. It’s another opportunity."
Since we’ve already counted out the Yankees more times than we can count, maybe desperation will ultimately squeeze the best out of the pieces remaining. Or at least rouse a few of the regulars, who should start to worry about their new RailRiders teammates making them look bad (cough, cough ... Giancarlo Stanton ... cough, cough).
Speaking of Stanton, he did stir in the later innings, spiking his bat after chopping a hard single in the sixth inning and then blasting his 16th homer in the seventh to put the Yankees ahead, 5-2. Before all that, the boos for him had resurfaced in the Bronx, with the crowd of 36,106 finding their groove again during Stanton’s previous two Ks.
But those were really the only sour notes of the night, as the Yankees stayed on brand with four solo homers — Florial, Gary Sanchez and Brett Gardner joined Stanton on the bash brigade — in addition to mixing in some small ball, courtesy of Allen, the speedy, switch-hitting sparkplug.
"I think we’re just trying to be efficient, have good at-bats one through nine," said Allen, who had a triple, a stolen base, two walks and two runs scored. "Just be versatile in the way that we’re scoring runs. As you saw tonight, a few long balls, some situational hitting, things like that."
Allen just does stuff the Yankees typically don’t do. How rare was his leadoff triple in the third inning? Previously, the Yankees had a total of five on the season, only slightly more than their number of triple plays turned (three). Allen would hustle in on Florial’s groundout, and later in the fifth, tied the score after reaching on a walk, stealing second, taking third on a fly ball to center and scrambling home on Didi Gregorius’ botched attempt to double him up on a caught liner.
So Allen got lucky there. Straying too far off third was almost a costly blunder. But the way it turned out, we’ll chalk it up to putting pressure on the defense. His speed is a weapon the Yankees need right now in the absence of two of their most consistent offensive threats, Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela.
"I think for me it’s definitely an important part," Allen said. "I think it comes down to finding ways to impact the game. You may not always get a hit when you’re at bat, but if you can make a good defensive play, get in scoring position or help a team score a run with your legs, I think all of those things have value. So at the end of the day, it’s about finding ways to impact the game for me."
We’re not sure which of the front office’s algorithms led them to Allen, who was acquired in a January trade with the Padres, but fate has set him up to play a critical role in salvaging the Yankees’ playoff chances. Same goes for Florial, once considered a superstar-caliber prospect whose shine seemed to fade some in recent years.
The only reason Florial reappeared Tuesday was because of Trey Amburgey being placed on the injured list with a right hamstring strain, suffered in Sunday’s debut. And if not for that, the Yankees don’t get Florial's two-RBI night, including his first career homer, a shot into the rightfield seats that put them up 6-3.
"We always have to be ready," Florial said, "because anything can happen."
In the Yankees’ case, everything has happened this season, far too much of it bad. But by beating the Phillies, they’ve now won eight of 11 for the first time since mid-May, and as a bonus, could have a fixed Aroldis Chapman back in the fold. Chapman teed up a long homer to Andrew McCutchen in the ninth, but otherwise whiffed the other three, perhaps a sign of better things to come.
"If we’re going to be the club we hope to be, and get to where we want to go, Chappy’s got to be the guy back there," Boone said.
Until the Yankees need the next guy. And so far, that’s somehow working, too.