YANKEES 14, ROYALS 1
After losing 10 of their past 11 games the Yankees went into Monday’s Memorial Day matinee just hoping to show some kind of life for a team that was 21-12 on May 11. Well, they quickly proved to the Royals that they were far from dead.
The Yankees jumped on Jeremy Guthrie for 11 runs with no outs in the second inning and Nathan Eovaldi pitched a solid seven-plus innings as New York ended a frustrating six-game losing steak by pounding Kansas City in the opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.
After averaging just over three runs in their past 11 games, the Yankees received three-run home runs from Brian McCann, Brett Gardner and Stephen Drew, while also adding a pair of two-run homers by Chase Headley and rookie Slade Heathcott.
Guthrie (4-3) pitched to 13 batters in the first inning and three more in the second before departing charged with a career-worst 11 runs on nine hits (four of them homers) and three walks with one strikeout.
Headley started the Bronx bombing with a two-run shot after Gardner had led off the first with a double. Three batters later, McCann hit a hit-arcing fly ball that ticked off right-fielder Paulo Orlando’s glove and into the first row for a three-run home run.
Later in the inning, Gardner lined a round-tripper of his own to tack on three more runs, which made the score 8-0.
After McCann walked to open the second, Garrett Jones singled and both runners advanced on a fielding error in right by Orlando. Drew then ended Guthrie’s second-shortest career outing with a long blast into the second deck that padded the lead to 11-0.
Eovaldi (4-1), who was one of the worst-supported pitchers in the National League in 2014 when he was pitching for the Miami Marlins, was able to breeze his way through the Royals’ high-octane offense. He was charged with one run on eight hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
The Royals’ lone run came in the fifth inning on a one-out double by Alcides Escobar and a two-out bloop RBI single off the bat of pinch-hitter Jarrod Dyson.
The Yankees added a single run in the fifth off left-hander Franklin Morales on a one-out walk to Gardner, a wild pitch that allowed Gardner to take second and an RBI double by Headley.
They added two more in the seventh off right-handed closer Greg Holland on a leadoff walk to Didi Gregorius and the first major-league homer from Heathcott.
The 14 runs matched their season high the Yankees scored against the Boston Red Sox in a 14-4 victory on April 12. The five home runs also tied a season high set in an 11-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on May 11, which ended up being the beginning of a dreadful 11-game slide that started the next day.
With the victory the Yankees improved to 23-22 and they climbed to within a half-game of the first-place Rays in the American League East. Both teams are tied in the loss column. The Royals, who entered the day with the best record in Major League Baseball, dropped to 28-16.
- Gardner, Headley, McCann and Drew each drove in three runs. The Yankees now lead the majors with 48 runs scored in the first inning. They have not scored more than 25 runs in any other frame. This is the power and offense the Yankees need consistently and they also need to be able to put teams away once they do get out to early leads. Lately they have been coughing up leads and never getting them back.
- Even with the early 8-0 and 11-0 leads, there was still pressure on Eovaldi to pitch well and go seven innings since the past three days the starters only were able to pitch 6 2/3 innings. So give Eovaldi credit for continuing to pitch into the eighth inning. Eovaldi kept the hot-hitting Royals off-balance with a mixture of a lot of off-speed pitches. He had an especially sharp slider.
- Ostensibly, Heathcott was brought up to bolster the bench with Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list with a sprained knee. But the 24-year-old Texas native is 5-for-12 (.417) with a double, a homer and three RBIs in four games (three starts). Heathcott was the team’s first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft but he has been hampered throughout his minor-league career with serious shoulder and knee injuries. He likely will get a lot more playing time going forward. It also is no coincidence that Jones, 33, is 6-for-11 (.545) with a homer and three RBIs since his three-run pinch-hit homer on May 22. Jones was hitting .150 with no homers and one RBI before that home run. Heathcott still could make Jones expendable when Ellsbury returns.
I would hard-pressed to come up with anything negative. I could say they did not get the shutout but that would be quibbling. This is a game the Yankees really needed to stop the major bleeding this team inflicted upon itself during the previous 11 games. The thing now is to back it up with another victory, then another and another, etc.
The Yankees on Monday selected the contract another rookie, left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren, from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned right-hander Branden Pinder to the same the club. They also made room on the 40-man roster for Lindgren by shifting backup infielder Brendan Ryan from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Lindgren, 22, made his major-league debut against the Royals and pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Lindgren, a starter for Mississippi State, was the team’s first selection in the second round (55th overall) in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He is the first Yankee draft pick to play in the majors within 12 months of being drafted since Deion Sanders did it in 1989. . . . McCann was 1-for 3 with a homer, two walks, two runs scored and three RBIs on Monday despite being unsure if he would even be ready to play. McCann left Sunday’s game against the Texas Rangers in the eighth inning with tightness in his right calf and foot. McCann, 31, was able to play because the tightness turned out to be just cramps and nothing serious. Meanwhile, outfielder Carlos Beltran, 38, missed another game with flu-like symptoms. He is day-to-day, manager Joe Girardi told reporters on Monday.
The Yankees will continue their three-game home series with the Royals on Tuesday.
Right-hander Adam Warren (2-3, 4.26 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Warren, 27, took a tough loss on Wednesday to the Washington Nationals. He was charged with yielding just two runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.
The Royals placed left-hander Danny Duffy on the 15-day disabled list on Monday with left biceps tendinitis and they will start left-hander Jason Vargas (3-1, 5.26 ERA) when they activate him off the disabled list on Tuesday. Vargas was on the DL with a left flexor strain and has not pitched since May 5.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. and the game will be broadcast by WPIX.
YANKEES 5, ROYALS 1
In the not-so-distant past the Yankees leaned upon CC Sabathia as an ace who could always end a long losing streak. So Saturday was like a casual stroll down memory lane as Sabathia helped his team end a four-game skid.
Sabathia yielded just one run in seven strong innings and Chase Headley blasted a two-out, three-run home run in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie as New York evened their three-game series with Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium.
Sabathia (2-5) limited the hot-hitting Royals to just six hits with no walks and five strikeouts to win his second consecutive start after beginning the season 0-5.
“Hopefully I can just keep this going,” Sabathia told reporters. “I feel good, I’ve got no problems. Hopefully I can just keep going out there and give us a chance to win.”
The Yankees managed a run off left-hander Danny Duffy (2-3) in the third inning and it was scored without the benefit of a hit. Duffy walked Jacoby Ellsbury, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira to load the bases with one out. Carlos Beltran then delivered a sacrifice fly to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.
But the Royals replied in the bottom of the inning. Omar Infante singled, Paulo Orlando reached on a bunt single and Alcides Escobar loaded the bases with a hard-hit single to center. Mike Moustakas then tied the game with a sacrifice fly to score Infante.
The Yankees then managed to get to a struggling Duffy with two out in the fifth. Teixeira and Beltran each singled and Headley followed by driving a 3-2 change-up from Duffy into the left-field bleachers for his fifth home run of the season.
“We’ve had opportunities and we just haven’t driven anybody in,” Headley told reporters. “That’s going to happen throughout the course of the season. Tonight, it was nice to be able to come through with that swing.”
Duffy was charged with four runs on four hits and four walks with three strikeouts in five innings.
Sabathia, with help from right-hander Dellin Betances in the eighth inning and left-hander Andrew Miller in the ninth, held the Royals scoreless the rest of the way. The Royals did not have a base-runner reach base after Moustakas reached on a fielding error by Jose Pirela with one in the ninth.
Sabathia, Betances and Miller combined to mow down the final 14 batters they faced and only three balls reached the outfield – none of them after the sixth inning.
Rodriguez clubbed the 664th home run of his career and his 10th of the season with one out in the ninth inning off veteran right-hander Joe Blanton.
With the victory the Yankees improved their season record to 22-16 and they extended their lead in the American League East over the second-place Tampa Bay Rays to two games. The Royals dropped to 23-14.
- In his first six starts, Sabathia was 0-5 with a 5.45 ERA. In his past two starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Sabathia, 34, has allowed just four earned runs on 12 hits and two walks with 14 strikeouts in 14 innings. It appears Sabathia has been able to mix in his change-up more to keep right-handed hitters off his fastball. He also has developed much better command of all his pitches and he is keeping batters off balance. He needed only 85 pitches to get through seven innings on Saturday.
- It is no secret that Headley has been struggling at the plate this season. He came in batting only .229 with four homers and 14 RBIs. But if Headley, 31, can somehow get more consistent at the plate he could be a big help to the lower part of the batting order. Headley hit .262 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 58 games with the Yankees last season. He already has five homers and 17 RBIs in 38 games this season.
- Beltran, 38, was 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI and it extends what has been a very hot May at the plate for the veteran outfielder. After batting a miserable .162 with no home runs and seven RBIs in April, Beltran is hitting .327 with two homers and nine RBIs halfway through May.
After losing four in a row, including a 12-1 drubbing by the Royals on Friday, it was good to see Sabathia throwing so well against what has been a hot-hitting club. Headley’s big home run came with two out and a two-strike count. That clutch hit gave Sabathia all he needed to beat the Royals. No complaints here.
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will travel with the Yankees to Washington, DC, on Monday and throw a third bullpen session. If all goes well, Tanaka, 26, could be sent out on a minor-league rehab assignment. Tanaka has been on the 15-day disabled list since April 29 with tendinitis in his right wrist and a strained right forearm. . . . The Yankees on Saturday recalled right-hander Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned right-hander Jose Ramirez to the same club. Ramirez, 24, was charged with four runs on three hits and two walks in an inning against the Royals on Friday. Mitchell, 24, was 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts with the RailRiders.
The Yankees will have an opportunity to win the rubber game of the three-game series with the Royals on Sunday.
Left-hander Chris Capuano, 36, will make his season debut with the Yankees and his first start. Capuano suffered an injured right quad in his second start in spring training on March 11. The Yankees re-signed the veteran after he posted a 2-3 record with a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts with the team last season.
He will be opposed by right-hander Edinson Volquez (2-3, 3.19 ERA), who is coming off a rough outing against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday. Volquez, 31, gave up four runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts in a no-decision.
Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
YANKEES 4, ROYALS 2
In his major-league debut on May 15 against the New York Mets, Chase Whitley drew high praise from former Atlanta Braves right-hander John Smoltz, who was providing color commentary of the game for the MLB Network. After the way the rookie pitched against the Royals on Friday, now Yankee fans can see what Smoltz noticed.
Whitley pitched seven solid innings in his longest start of his career and he went on to earn his first major-league victory behind the hitting of Brian McCann as New York edged Kansas City in front of a paid crowd of 23,418 at Kauffman Stadium.
Whitley (1-0) yielded two runs on five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out three in his first outing to last more than five innings. Whitley threw 51 strikes out of 87 pitches for a 59 percent strike ratio, keeping the Royals off balance with his fastball, slider and change-up.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were able to break a 1-1 tie in the third inning, keyed by a one-out, bases-loaded, three-run double off the bat of McCann.
Jacoby Ellsbury opened the inning with a single up the middle off veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie (2-6). Brett Gardner then looped an opposite-field single into left and – one out later – Guthrie brushed the right shoulder of Mark Teixeira with a pitch to load the bases.
McCann then stroked an outside fastball into the left-field corner to clear the bases and hand Whitley and the Yankees a 4-1 lead.
Guthrie was charged with four runs on six hits and one walk while he fanned two in seven innings of work. He has now winless in his past 11 starts dating back to April 9.
Dellin Betances tossed a scoreless eighth and David Robertson threw a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save in 16 chances this season.
The Yankees took an 1-0 lead in the second inning when Teixeira led off by lining a single to right off Guthrie. Yangervis Solarte drew a one-out walk and Brian Roberts provided a two-out RBI single to center to score Teixeira.
However, the Royals were able to tie it up in the bottom of the second when Alex Gordon laced a one-out double into the right-field corner and Salvador Perez followed with an RBI single to left.
The Royals did close to within two runs in the fifth when Gordon led off the frame with a single and stole second. One out later, Lorenzo Cain bounced a ball into left-center that he was able to hustle into a double.
However, Whitley ended the threat by retiring Mike Moustakas on a groundout and Alcides Escobar on a flyout.
The 24-year-old was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on May 15 as the Yankees lost starters CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda to injury in quick succession. The converted reliever did not get a decision in his previous four starts despite the fact he is sporting an excellent 2.42 ERA.
With the victory the Yankees have won two in a row and they improved their season record to 31-29. They also were able to pass the Baltimore Orioles to claim second place in the American League East six games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays. The Royals, who have now lost 21 of the past 31 games to the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium, fell to 29-32.
- Whitley may end up being more than just a fill-in starter until Sabathia and Pineda are expected to return in July. His first five starts – and particularly this one – prove that Whitley deserves to stay in the rotation as long he continues to pitch this well. David Phelps is 1-3 with a 4.19 ERA in six starts and Vidal Nuno is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA in nine starts as replacements. Whitley has simply been more impressive as a starter than they have, period.
- McCann has been a major disappointment at the plate this season after entering the season as a career .275 hitter with 20 or more homers in the past six seasons. But his big three-run double showed he is willing to hit the ball where it is pitched to beat the extreme shifts teams play on him. Since May 27, McCann is quietly resurrecting his hitting. He is 14-for-33 (.424) in that span to raise his season average to .231.
- Roberts entered the game in a 1-for-14 (.071) funk that dates back to May 31. But his two-out RBI single gave the Yankees an early 1-0 lead. The Yankees have been really disappointed with the production they have gotten from the free agents (Ellsbury, McCann, Roberts, Carlos Beltran and Kelly Johnson) they signed this past winter. They all need to really start picking it up soon.
After the team went through a horrendous four-game losing streak while the Blue Jays were red hot, they finally seem to have some life back in them. So after getting a huge victory out a pitcher they had not planned to use at all this season things may be finally falling into place. It’s about time, too.
The Yankees will continue their four-game series with the Royals on Saturday.
Phelps (1-3, 4.11 ERA) will start for the Yankees. The right-hander is coming off his worst start of the season on Monday against the Seattle Mariners. He was tagged for six runs on six hits and three walks in six-plus innings.
The Royals will start left-hander Danny Duffy (3-5, 3.05 ERA). The converted reliever will be making his seventh start and he is 2-4 with a 3.27 ERA in those starts. He shut out the St. Louis Cardinals on one hit and one walk while striking out five in six innings on Monday.
Game-time will be 7:15 p.m. EDT and the game will be broadcast nationally by FOX Sports.
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.