By Chad Jennings
Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher Joe Smith watches as New York Yankees’ Chris Parmelee runs the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 8, 2016, in New York.
Here’s the harsh reality of Chris Parmelee’s situation: He’s only here because three different guys got hurt. And frankly, that’s the kind of opportunity he was waiting for. He wasn’t necessarily hoping for injuries, but he’s been around long enough to know this is the way baseball works.
Parmelee was still on the open market when Greg Bird was hurt, and so he signed with the Yankees. He was the best hitter in Triple-A when Mark Teixeira and Dustin Ackley were hurt within a week of one another, and so he was called up. He was the only left-handed first baseman on the Yankees’ roster tonight, and so he was in the lineup.
“I’m sure if Tex gets healthy and comes back, he’s going to play,” Parmelee said. “Until then, I’m just trying to do what I can to help this team win and to stick; whether it’s this year or long-term.”
Major League Baseball games are on the TV in minor league clubhouses all the time, so Parmelee was well aware when Teixeira was pulled from Friday’s game with a knee injury. He knew the Yankees had gone with Rob Refsnyder after Ackley’s shoulder injury, and he knew Nick Swisher stood out as an call-up alternative, but he also knew this was as good a chance as any to get back to the big leagues.
“It obviously passes through your head,” he said. “I went home that night and thought, we’ll see what happens. I was fortunate enough to get that phone call, but if it didn’t, you still have to keep working because this is the ultimate goal to play up here.”
After four games as a defensive replacement, Parmelee was finally in the lineup against a pitcher he’d had success against in the past. First at-bat, he struck out. Then a double that led to a run. Then a home run that tied the game. Then a home run that put things out of reach. It was his first career game with at least three hits, three runs and three RBI. He was only the second Yankees player to have more than one home run in a game this season. It was his first multi-homer game since June 16 of last season.
That happened to be his Orioles debut. He also had two hits in his big league debut with the Twins back in 2011.
“I said that Parm was going to play, and I’m still going to say that,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I haven’t looked at the match ups and what’s in front of us, but there’s a good chance he’ll play.”
The Yankees have said they want to see what Refsnyder can do with regular at-bats, but what they’ve seen so far have been extreme splits in a relatively small sample size. Refsnyder thrived in a platoon role down the stretch last year — he had just eight at-bats against right-handers after September 1 — and so far this season, he’s had an .872 OPS against lefties but a .382 against righties. Sample sizes are tiny, and the Yankees have said they’re intrigued by the idea of Refsnyder as a lineup regular, but at the very least Parmelee provides an alternative against righties.
So far, he’s had only one night to make a first impression, but it was quite an impression.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” he said. “I’m sure it will tonight. I’m enjoying the moment right now.”
Beltran does it again
Amazing that Carlos Beltran homered for the third game in a row and still got second billing. Some of that is because of the uniqueness of Parmelee’s debut, but some of it also is because there’s just not much left to say about Beltran. He’s now homered in four of his past six games. He’s had a hit in 11 consecutive starts. He has 16 home runs through 58 games. He didn’t hit his 16th homer last year until September 19, in his 119th game.
“He’s been so big for this offense,” Girardi said. “Just big hit after big hit after big hit. Another huge night tonight for us. He’s solidified the third spot in the order, and has done a great job.”
This is the 11th time in his career that Beltran has homered in three straight games.
“When you win, you have fun, man,” Beltran said. “I am having a good time. So I want to just go out there and do the best I can to help the team win. Sometimes things don’t go your way, but right now we are putting good at-bats, we’re making the right play, making the right pitch, we’re making the right move. I just have to continue to enjoy the ride, enjoy the moment. In baseball you have good moments and bad moments. Right now I’m in the good moment, so I have to get the most out of it.”
Production at the top
Beltran has stole the show lately, and Parmelee stole the show tonight, but a key factor in the Yankees sudden offensive surge has been the improved production of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Those two combined to reach base six times and score six runs tonight.
“You score a lot of runs (when they’re getting on base),” Girardi said. “And you don’t have to work as hard to score them because they’re going first to third, first to home, stealing bases. It doesn’t take as many hits to score them.”
Since the start of May, Ellsbury is hitting .340/.410/.534 in 30 games. Gardner is hitting .522 during a six-game hitting streak. The Yankees are 11-1 when Ellsbury and Gardner each score a run.
“I wasn’t aware of that, but it doesn’t surprise me,” Gardner said. “Our job is to get on base, and when we’re getting on base and giving those guys behind us RBI opportunities, good things happen. Hopefully we can continue to keep that up.”
Eovaldi’s rough night
Second start in row in which Nathan Eovaldi has allowed five runs in 5.1 innings. He was on such a roll before this, but he’s run into familiar problems the past two outings.
“Last two starts, I’ve felt a little bit of fastball command (was off), and then I just got to get that split back on track,” he said. “I felt like I threw some good ones tonight — didn’t get any offers on it — then the bad ones were just way in front of the plate, so I’ve got to clean that up before this next start and get back on track.”
Before these two starts, Eovaldi had allowed a total of five runs in his previous four starts combined. This was just the third time in his past 30 starts that he allowed two home runs in the same game.
“His stuff was not as sharp again,” Girardi said. “He’ll bounce back, I’m not worried about that, but we needed some runs tonight.”
Odds and ends
- Tonight was the Yankees debut of Anthony Swarzak, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings with two strikeouts to pick up the win. “It felt like it was my first outing all over again in the big leagues,” he said.
- Multiple hits in four of the past five games for Alex Rodriguez. He’s batting .409 in that span, raising his batting average from .180 to .221. He had two hits and an RBI tonight.
- Another hit against a left-handed pitcher for Didi Gregorius, who is hitting .467 against lefties since May 7. He has a hit in each of his past four at-bats against left-handed relievers.
- Worth noting that down in Triple-A, Luis Severino pitched six scoreless innings with one walk and seven strikeouts.
- This was the Yankees’ second-highest run total of the year. They’ve scored at least five runs in six of their past seven games, averaging six runs per game in that span.
We’ll give the final word to Beltran:
“Good results, guys. I think when we get good results and get good at-bats and score runs early in the game, it’s good. Right now we feel like today we scored a few runs, they came back and we tied the game and took the lead again. We feel like we can come and score runs. Sometimes when you fall too far behind, it’s a little difficult, but today the game was close so it was a good opportunity for us to put good at bats together and win this ball game.”