YANKEES 11, ROYALS 6
It is getting to the point that Yankee fans may forget their injured first baseman Mark Teixeira because his replacement Lyle Overbay is doing so well in his absence.
Overbay was 4-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and five RBIs on Friday to lead 16-hit attack as New York outslugged Kansas City in front of a paid crowd of 24,521 at Kauffman Stadium.
Though starter Phil Hughes (2-2) was staked to 4-0 and 5-3 leads, he was unable to hold onto it in the fifth inning when Alex Gordon followed back-to-back bloop one-out singles by Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain with a two-run double just over the outstretched glove of left-fielder Vernon Wells on the warning track to tie the game at 5-5.
However, the Yankees had already scored five runs off former Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Wade Davis (2-3) on a pair of two-run home runs by Ichiro Suzuki and Overbay in the second inning and an RBI double off the bat of Overbay in the fourth.
So the Yankees opened the sixth with a double off the right-field wall by Suzuki and a soft lined single to center by Jayson Nix that advanced Suzuki to third and chased Davis from the game.
Royals manager Ned Yost replaced Davis with left-hander Bruce Chen and Overbay greeted him with a double off the top of the wall in center-field that scored Suzuki that broke the 5-5 tie and gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish the rest of the night.
Chris Nelson followed with a two-run single to right, his first RBIs as a member of the Yankees.
The Yankees went on to bat around against Chen and add two more runs in the inning to extend the lead to 10-5 and dash any hopes the Royals might have had about another rally.
Hughes was the winner despite giving up a three-run home run to Jarrod Dyson in the second inning – which broke Hughes’ 22-inning homerless streak entering the contest – and a solo shot to Mike Moustakas in the sixth.
Hughes gave up six runs on seven hits, two walks and one hit batter while he struck three in 5 2/3 innings.
But the Yankees pounded Davis for seven runs on seven hits and two walks while he fanned three in five-plus innings of work.
The No. 5, 6 and 7 hitters for the Yankees – Suzuki, Nix and Overbay – combined to go 9-for-13 (.692) with two home runs, four doubles, eight runs scored and seven RBIs.
With the Yankees’ bullpen short because Preston Claiborne, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera were unavailable to pitch, the team got a strong effort out of right-hander Shawn Kelley.
Kelley pitched 2 1/3 perfect innings and struck out six of the seven batters he faced. Boone Logan pitched a perfect ninth to close out the game.
The Yankees’ victory was their third in a row and gave Joe Girardi his 500th triumph as manager of the Yankees.
The Yankees also improved to 21-13, which keeps them percentage points ahead of the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in first place in the American League East. The Royals dropped to 18-14.
- Considering that when he signed a huge contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and was later sarcastically nicknamed “Lyle Overpaid” when he did not deliver big numbers there and he was released this season in the last week of spring training by the Red Sox, Overbay should have the moniker “Lyle Underpaid” with the Yankees. All Overbay has done in 32 games (29 starts) is hit .264 with six home runs and 20 RBIs. Oh, he has committed only one error at first base while flashing Gold Glove-caliber defense at the position. Geesh! What a pickup for general manager Brian Cashman.
- Suzuki entered the contest hitting .372 at Kauffman Stadium, which is the highest average for any opposing hitter in history. Well, he raised that average by going 3-for-5 with his second home run of the season, a double, a single, a stolen base, three runs scored and two RBIs. In his past nine games, Suzuki is 12-for-33 (.364) which has raised his season average from .247 to .282.
- Kelley was absolutely sensational when he came out the bullpen in the sixth inning. Of his six strikeouts, four were swinging and he struck out the first five batters he faced. After being hammered for 10 earned runs on 13 hits and four walks in 10 1/3 innings of work over nine appearances through May 4, Kelley has not been scored upon his last three outings covering 4 1/3 innings. In that span he has fanned nine batters, mostly on his devastating slider.
- Hughes pitched aggressively against the Royals, throwing first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. However, the Royals were able to catch up with his fastball and hit him hard. After pitching brilliantly in his last four starts in which his ERA was 1.93 and he won only one of those starts, Hughes was hammered for six runs and yet he won because the Yankees backed him with a lot of run support. Go figure!
- The Royals’ pitchers must have really wanted to bear down on Wells and designated hitter Travis Hafner. The two combined to go 0-for-9 on a night the team scored 11 runs and knocked out 16 hits. Fortunately for the Yankees, the rest of the lineup was 16-for-34 (.471), which more than made up for Wells and Hafner.
The Yankees held shortstop Eduardo Nunez out of a fourth straight game but he was available to the team in an emergency. Nunez, who has been slowed by tightness in his left ribcage, could be available to start on Saturday if he suffers no setbacks throwing and taking batting practice on Saturday. . . . Curtis Granderson homered on Friday in his second rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Granderson, who was 1-for-5 in the game, hit his home run in the eighth inning. Granderson started the game in left-field and batted second. The 32-year-old outfielder has been on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left forearm and he could be activated within the next 10 days. . . . Because Kauffman Stadium was the scene where Rivera suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on May 5 last season, some of the Yankees decided to have a little fun with the 43-year-old future Hall-of-Famer. Some teammates drew a chalk outline of Rivera on the warning track and placed a sign on the outfield wall lined with stop signs and yellow tape that read “No Mo Zone.” When Rivera strolled out to look at it he laughed and he intends to keep the sign.
The Yankees will continue their weekend series with the Royals on Saturday.
The Yankees will start veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte (3-2, 4.06 ERA), who yielded four runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in five innings on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics. But he loves Kansas City because he is 9-2 with a 3.72 ERA in the past 10 seasons against the Royals.
The Royals will counter with the second former Rays right-hander in a row in James Shields (2-2, 2.52 ERA). Shields threw eight shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox on Monday but he lost a victory when the bullpen allowed the Chisox to rally for a 2-1 victory in 11 innings. Shields in 7-14 with a 4.56 ERA lifetime against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 6, ORIOLES 2
The New York Yankees on Friday decided they needed to regain some “mo” in Kansas City, MO., in their first game without Mo.
Fortunately for the Yankees, CC Sabathia pitched two-run ball over eight innings to win his fourth straight start and the offense “exploded” for same amount of runs than the team has scored in its previous four games combined as New York defeated Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.
Sabathia (4-0) scattered seven hits, walked none and fanned five batters to help the Yankees end a three-game losing streak.
The Yankees and Royals actually were locked in a 2-2 deadlock after the first inning until Eduardo Nunez stroked a two-out triple in the seventh inning to score Robinson Cano from first base against Royals starter Bruce Chen (0-4). That hit opened the floodgates to a four-run inning that chased Chen.
Backup catcher Chris Stewart scored Nunez with a line-drive single to left and a red-hot Derek Jeter blasted a two-run home run to deep center to give the Yankees a huge four-run advantage.
The Yankees actually took a 2-0 lead on Kansas City in the first inning on a leadoff single on the first pitch from Jeter and one-out, two-run home run off the bat of Mark Teixeira, who has made a habit of making Chen’s life miserable. In his first 20 at-bats against Chen he had 10 hits, seven of them home runs.
Sabathia, however, was unable to hold the lead in the bottom of the inning.
Jarrod Dyson led off the frame with a single and Alex Gordon followed with an RBI double off the center-field wall. Jeff Francouer came to the plate two batters later and doubled to right-center to score Gordon with the tying run.
But Sabathia held the Royals there and, at one point, he rertired 12 batters in a row.
David Robertson, one of two relievers who will attempt to replace Mariano Rivera as the team’s closer this season, struck out the side in the ninth to preserve the victory.
The Yankees improved to 14-12 on the season while the Royals’ record fell to 8-17.
- Sabathia did what a “stopper” should after the Yankees struggled to score runs with 67% of their outfield injured, 40% of the starting rotation struggling and 100% of the best closer in the history of the game out for the season. Sabathia coasted to his fourth straight victory once he got some run support in the seventh.
- Jeter continues to amaze this season with how hot he is. He was 2-for-5 in the game , which left his season average at .404. His homer gave him five home runs and 15 RBIs on the season. In his last 10 games, Jeter is hitting .390 but he only has six runs scored (he scored two of those on Friday) because the rest of the lineup has been unable to generate much of any offense behind him.
- Nunez’s RBI triple in the seventh broke a personal 0-for-19 slide at the plate. Nunez’s last hit was a single in his final at-bat against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on April 21 in the game the Yankees rallied from a 9-0 deficit to beat the Bosox 15-9.
- Teixiera was 2-for 4 with a home run and two RBIs. He was 2-for-3 against Chen and he is now 12-for-22 (.545) against him in his career. After going five games without an RBI, Teixeira has driven in four runs in his last two games. He is 3-for-8 in the first two games of the four-game series against the Royals.
- The only starter who did not get a hit in the game was replacement outfielder Jayson Nix, who is is 0-for-6 since being called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday with starters Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner unavailable to play.
- Normally I do not criticize manager Joe Girardi for being aggressive on the bases when the team is struggling offensively. However, I have to question his decision to send Teixeira from second and Alex Rodriguez from first on a double steal as Cano was swinging through a 3-2 pitch for a strikeout. Royals catcher Brayan Pena fired a throw to third baseman Mike Moustakas to get a sliding Teixeira easily for a double play. This ruined a two-on, no-out situation and the Yankees ended up not scoring at all. A slow runner like Tex has no business running in that situation.
- Though the Yankees won they should not think their hitting woes are over. They were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position on Friday. Take away Stewart’s single and they were 0-for-7.
If Rivera was planning to retire at the end of 2012, his season-ending knee injury may have extended his career another season. Rivera, 42, vowed on Friday that he would come back and pitch next season with the Yankees. The all-time saves leader tore an anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee while shagging fly balls in the outfield on Thursday. “Write it down in big letters. I’m not going down like this. God willing and given the strength, I’m coming back,” Rivera told reporters. . . . Girardi said that for now both Robertson and Rafael Soriano will share closing duties in the ninth inning. . . . Rivera was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Thursday and right-hander D.J. Mitchell was optioned back to Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees then recalled right-hander Cody Eppley and outfielder Dewayne Wise from Scranton. Pitcher Michael Pineda was shifted to the 60-day disabled list so that Wise could be added to the 40-man roster. Wise pinch-hit in Friday’s game and doubled in his only at-bat. . . . The Yankees are targeting a return date of Tuesday for Swisher, who is nursing a strained left hamstring. Gardner (strained right elbow) hopes to play in a pair of minor-league rehab games on Sunday and Monday and he could also be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday.
The Yankees continue their four-game weekend series in Kansas City on Saturday.
Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (2-3, 3.69 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Yankees. Kuroda is coming off an outing in which he limited the Orioles to one run on four hits in seven innings. It was his second consecutive strong pitching performance. He has never faced the Royals before.
The Royals will send right-hander Felipe Paulino to the mound in his first start of the 2012 season. He has no record because he has been on the disabled list with a right forearm strain. He was 4-6 with a 4.11 ERA with KC last season. He is 0-1 with a 8.44 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 7:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
- Coming off a 0-for-5 night in which he struck out four times, Swisher was 3-for-4 with a walk. His most impressive at-bat was his fifth-inning walk off Chen. Failing behind 0-2, Swisher battled Chen for 13 pitches to earn the free pass. It was a big reason why Chen was pulled the next inning after throwing 92 pitches.
- Jeter is showing signs of life with the bat again with two hits and two runs scored. After hitting .243 in June and .245 in July, Jeter is hitting .348 in August. Jeter leads the major leagues in runs scored with 84. Teixeira is second with 83.
- Granderson’s extra work with hitting coach Kevin Long paid some immediate dividends. Granderson was 2-for-3 with an RBI single in the second inning that opened the Yankees’ scoring. Both hits came off the left-hander Chen. Granderson entered the game hitting a woeful .206 against left-handers.
- Sabathia ended up giving up 10 hits and two walks in 8 2/3 innings but still pitched in control to limit the Royals to three runs. He is tied with the Rays’ David Price for the American League lead in victories. This is the quickest Sabathia has reached 15 victories in his career.
- Though Teixeira and Rodriguez each contributed an RBI, the both of the them along with Robinson Cano combined to go 0-for-12 in the game and left eight men on base.
- Francisco Cervelli is finally crashing back to Earth. He was 0-for-4 in the game and his season average, which was .400 on May 17, has dropped to .250. After hitting .180 in June and .214 in July, Cervelli is batting .154 in August.
- Swisher committed an embarrassing error on the bases after he singled in the first inning. With a 3-2 count on Teixeira, Swisher took off for second base too soon and was caught by Chen.
- Robertson likely will not be used as a closer too often after he allowed a two-run double to Bloomquist, an infield single by Wilson Betermit that Robertson bobbled coming off the mound and he needed eight pitches to strike out Kendall with Bloomquist on third and pinch-runner Chris Getz on second.