If not for the Yankees’ unprecedented string of injuries in the outfield, Greg Allen would still be spending his days with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After all, he made Tuesday night’s start at Yankee Stadium in right field -- the usual domain of All-Star Aaron Judge, who is among the six Yanks sidelined on the COVID-19 injured list.
Thanks to Allen, however, the Yankees pulled out their third straight win in a 6-4 victory over the Phillies. In a very busy fifth inning, Allen drew a leadoff walk off Phillies starter Aaron Nola, stole second base, advanced to third on a fly ball to center field and scored the game-tying run on a line drive that Phils shortstop Didi Gregorius threw past third base attempting to turn a double play. Brett Gardner, the next batter up, launched a go-ahead solo homer just above the head of Philadelphia right fielder Bryce Harper.
“Pro. Been an absolute pro in the room and been incredibly productive between the lines,” Boone said of Allen. “The element he brings of running the bases, the versatility, the really good defense he brings in the outfield and really every at-bat -- obviously he’s gotten results, but also just the quality of the at-bats have been really strong. Love what he’s brought.”
That was a follow-up to Allen’s third-inning effort, in which he legged out a triple on a sharp line drive that smacked the top of the right-field wall and bounced away as Harper scampered after it. With a headfirst slide, Allen reached the bag safely and the crowd roared with delight.
Electric plays like that have been a rarity for the Bronx Bombers this season. The Yankees entered Tuesday with just five triples on the year, the lowest mark of any team in the Majors.
Outfielder Estevan Florial, who was recalled before Tuesday’s game to replace the injured Trey Amburgey -- himself a Triple-A replacement on the Yankees’ roster -- drove in Allen in the third with a grounder to first base for his first career RBI. He got his second on his first big league homer in the eighth, the fourth Yanks big fly of the night.
“It meant a lot,” said Florial, the Yankees’ No. 10 prospect per MLB Pipeline. “It’s everything I have dreamed about. To come here, to play in the big leagues, and above all, to help the team.”
Florial’s homer followed blasts from Gary Sánchez and Giancarlo Stanton, who each managed a multihit game. Sánchez reached base a season-high-tying three times, while Stanton snapped an 0-for-15 stretch with his fifth-inning single.
The four home runs provided extra padding for the Yankees’ bullpen, which saw Chad Green, Zach Britton and Aroldis Chapman combine for six strikeouts and an inning-ending double play to escape jams and shut down the Phillies in the seventh, eighth and ninth.
But it was Allen who first put the Yankees in line for the win. Tuesday’s performance continued a remarkable stretch of games for the 28-year-old, as he has gone 4-for-8 (.500 average) with a 1.458 OPS since joining New York’s 26-man roster before last Friday’s series opener against the Red Sox.
“It’s been great. He’s done it all,” Sánchez said through an interpreter. “… I mean, what can I say about him? He’s done an amazing job for us. His addition to the team has definitely brought more speed as well. He’s done a little bit of everything.”
Allen, who last played regularly in the Majors for the Indians in 2019, was acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the Padres in January (he appeared in 16 games for Cleveland and San Diego in ‘20). That year, he compiled a sprint speed of 29.1 feet per second, which ranked in the 92nd percentile in MLB, per Statcast.
That type of energy on the basepaths has been sorely lacking for the Yankees this season, and as an important part of Allen’s game, it could prove to be a valuable commodity as they continue a pivotal stretch of their season, looking for a second-half surge.
“It goes down to finding ways to impact the game,” Allen said. “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 your team score a run with your legs, I think all those things have value.”