Carp continues resurgence with 2 HRs, 7 RBIs for Yankees

June 12th, 2022

NEW YORK -- likes to say that, in the span of less than a month, he went from his living room couch to playing for the best team in baseball. If he keeps crushing home runs like he did Sunday, the Yankees will have to find ways to keep sending him to the plate.

Carpenter belted his fifth and sixth home runs since joining the Bombers, tying his career high by driving in seven runs while reaching base four times. New York completed a three-game sweep of the Cubs, winning for the 11th time in 12 games with an 18-4 victory on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

“I’ve played the game long enough to know what it feels like and looks like when I’m right,” Carpenter said. “This is certainly that. I can have competitive at-bats every time I get in there. It got away from me the last few years, but I was able to put in a lot of good work. A lot of people helped me get it back.”

Carpenter slugged a three-run homer in the second inning, then connected for a two-run shot in the sixth, both off reliever Daniel Norris. Six of Carpenter’s first seven hits in a Yankees uniform were homers -- the other was a bunt single -- and he is the first Yankee to hit at least six homers in his first 10 games.

The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Carpenter was just the second player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to hit six home runs in his first seven hits for a team, joining Trevor Story of the 2016 Rockies. Making his first start since June 3, Carpenter added an RBI double in the seventh inning.

“I put him in the garage for a week and pulled him out for a spin,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “That’s impressive, what he’s done since he’s gotten here. Six homers now, and I think he’s hit probably three balls to the wall for outs. It’s just been a lot of really good at-bats.”

Not bad, considering that the 36-year-old Carpenter wasn’t even in the Yankees’ original starting lineup on Sunday. He had yet to see a single defensive inning since arriving on May 26, pressed into duty at third base when Gleyber Torres reported to the ballpark with a stomach illness.

New York batted around for five runs in the first inning, chasing starter Keegan Thompson after just two-thirds of an inning. Carpenter worked a bases-loaded walk in that frame, which also featured two-run doubles by and .

Playing flawlessly behind starter , who navigated five innings to improve to 7-1 with a 2.93 ERA in 12 starts this season, Carpenter departed the stadium just as pleased by his two plays in the field as the home runs.

“Honestly, it was a lot of fun to be out there,” Carpenter said. “I’ve been waiting for that first ‘Roll Call.’ I was pretty excited for it.”

Carpenter’s emergence is the unexpected cherry on top of a cross-country journey to rebuild his swing. The three-time All-Star posted a disappointing .176 batting average over the 2020-21 seasons with the Cardinals.

This past winter, Carpenter had a lengthy phone call with the Reds’ Joey Votto, checked into a cutting-edge baseball performance lab in Baton Rouge, La., hired a private hitting instructor in Santa Clarita, Calif., and took swings with former teammate Matt Holliday at Oklahoma State University -- all in hopes of restoring his stroke.

“I just knew I needed to go play,” Carpenter said.

With 21 games at Triple-A Round Rock in the Rangers organization, producing a .275/.379/.613 slash line, Carpenter tempted the Yankees, who were quietly discussing him behind closed doors during Spring Training. and were both headed toward the injured list when Carpenter opted out of his Minor League contract, and the Yankees pounced.

“It’s been huge having him here, with the veteran presence he brings,” said , who hit his first two homers of the season in Sunday’s victory. “I’m constantly talking to him about hitting and his thought processes. He comes out, pops two homers and puts together great at-bats.”

When Boone shook hands with Carpenter in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field three weeks ago, Carpenter expressed his gratitude, exclaiming that he would be happy to load luggage on the plane. The Yankees haven’t pressed Carpenter into skycap duty, but Boone sees a continued role at designated hitter, off the bench and occasionally in the field, which is just fine.

“It’s so much fun watching this group compete,” Carpenter said. “I just love coming to the ballpark every day, coming into the clubhouse with this group of guys.”