YANKEES 9, ROYALS 7
Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball. Foul ball.
Three-run home run.
Twelve pitches from Royals left-hander Danny Duffy pretty much summed up what the Yankees do to pitchers. Robinson Cano simply took advantage of a mistake on the 12th delivery and he sent the ball careening into the fountains in right-center that broke a 5-5 tie and gave the Yankees a hard-fought victory at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday night.
Duffy, 22, began the fourth inning having just been handed a 5-3 lead by the Royals.
Brett Gardner opened the frame with a bunt single. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI double to left. Curtis Granderson bunted weakly and Royals catcher Salvador Perez was not able to get Jeter sliding into third. Mark Teixeira followed with a lined single to right to score Jeter with the tying run.
Duffy, who had thrown 78 pitches and recorded only nine outs in his first meeting with the Yankees, really got a major-league education from Cano.
Duffy fell behind in the count 3-1 and was forced to come in with a strike or walk the bases loaded. Cano then fouled off seven consecutive pitches in a grueling, mano-on-chico battle. On pitch No. 90 of the game, Duffy tried a backdoor slider but the pitch was up and caught too much of the plate. Cano swung and, the next thing Duffy knew, Cano was rounding the bases and Duffy was being removed from the game.
The Yankees, though they did not get a very good effort from their starter Ivan Nova (12-4), held on the rest of the way to defeat the Royals and claim first place in the American League East from the Boston Red Sox, who split their day-night doubleheader with the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park.
Nova was unable to command his pitches and he was hit hard for the second time this season by the Royals. He won despite giving up seven runs on eight hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings. On May 12, Nova gave up eight runs (four earned) on 10 hits and two walks in three innings against the Royals. Nova was 8-1 with a 3.50 ERA since that game at Yankee Stadium.
But the Yankees were able to get to Duffy for eight runs on eight hits, two walks, two hit batters and Duffy fanned three in three-plus innings.
The New York bullpen, which leads the American League in ERA, once again bailed out Nova and the Yankees. Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera pitched 3 2/3 perfect innings to keep the Royals off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
Rivera pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two batters, to earn his 32nd save of the season and the 591st of his career. He needs only 11 saves to pass Trevor Hoffman as the all-time saves leader in the major leagues.
The victory improved the Yankees’ season record to 73-44. They are a half-game in front of the Red Sox. The Royals fell to 50-73.
- Cano was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and he is officially on a red-hot tear. He has at least one hit in his last eight games, in which he is 15-for-35 (.429) with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He is hitting .386 for the month and he has raised his season average to .306 with 21 home runs and 85 RBIs.
- Teixeira saved Nova and the Yankees with another one of his Gold Glove-worthy plays in the bottom of the sixth. Boone Logan had come in to relieve Nova after the 24-year-old right-hander had given up a one-out two-run double to Perez that drew the feisty young Royals to within one run at 8-7. Logan struck out Mike Moustakas for the second out but Alcides Escobar sliced a hard grounder down the first-base line. However, Teixeira dove backwards and to his left to stop the ball, he got up and ran to tag first to end the inning and keep the Yankees ahead.
- Jeter continued his hot hitting with a 2-for-5 night, including an RBI double and an RBI single. In his two games against the Royals, Jeter is 5-for-10 with two runs scored and five RBIs. He has a modest five-game hitting streak but he is he is 11-for-22 in that stretch and he has raised his season average to a season-high .283.
- Gardner is also red hot. He was 2-for-5 on Tuesday with a bunt single and a triple and he scored two runs. In his last five games, he is 8-for-18 (.444).
- Nova was just not Nova from the first inning on. Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francouer tagged him for RBI singles in the first. After the Yankees had reclaimed the lead at 3-2 in the third, Nova handed it back by giving up three runs in the bottom of the inning. It included an RBI groundout by Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera’s 16th home run of the season and an RBI double by Francouer. Despite the fact Nova did not pitch well, he did win the game and he leads all rookie pitchers in the majors in wins and win percentage.
- Designated hitter Andruw Jones was the only Yankee starter without a hit in the game. He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and he did not get a ball out of the infield. Jones’ season average slipped to .240.
- Though he contributed a two-run bases-loaded single in the third inning and a walk, Russell Martin looked dreadful in his three other at-bats. He struck out looking once and swinging twice. He struck out in the eighth inning against Greg Holland on a awkward half-swing on a 1-2 pitch that was out of the strike zone. This the reason why Martin is still hitting .226 on the season.
Alex Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a single in the six innings of a rehab game he played on Tuesday night for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against the Durham Bulls. Rodriguez singled in his first at-bat and played all six innings at third base. Rodriguez, who is rehabbing from July 11 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, is expected to play one more game with Scranton and then rejoin the Yankees on Thursday in Minneapolis for a four-game series against the Twins. . . . Starter Freddy Garcia, nursing a cut on a finger on his right hand, threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. However, Garcia did not throw his split-finger fastball to avoid aggravating the cut. The Yankees have him scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Thursday in hopes he can make a start either Saturday or Sunday.
The Yankees will go for a three-game series series sweep of the Royals on Wednesday.
Bartolo Colon (8-6, 3.31 ERA) will get the start for the Bombers. Colon held the Angels to two runs on five hits in six innings and he is undefeated over his last four starts with a 3.18 ERA. He has not faced the Royals this season but is 13-7 against them in his career.
The Royals will counter with a change-up tossing lefty in Bruce Chen (7-5, 4.15 ERA). Chen held the White Sox to one hit and no runs over six innings in his last outing on Friday. He has not faced the Yankees this season but he is 1-5 with a 6.71 ERA lifetime against them.
Game-time will be 8:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.