YANKEES 3, ROYALS 2
Stop the presses! There is earth-shattering news out of the Bronx on Tuesday! Reserve the Canyon of Heroes for a ticker-tape parade in New York City on Wednesday!
The Yankees have finally won a major-league baseball game!
It was not pretty but it still counts. Phil Hughes pitched a solid six innings and the Yankees pushed across two runs with the bases loaded in the fifth inning as New York defeated Kansas City to break a slide in which the team had lost six of its last seven games.
Hughes (4-5) gave up just two runs on five hits and two walks and fanned seven batters to pick up his third victory in his last four starts. A bullpen combination of Cory Wade, Boone Logan, Cody Eppley and Clay Rapada shut down the Royals for two innings and Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth for his third save of the season.
The Yankees, trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, picked up a run on a solo home run off the bat of Robinson Cano, his fifth of the season.
They then loaded the bases against right-hander Luke Hochevar (3-5) in the fifth inning. For the past week or so, having the bases loaded for the Yankees has been an advantage to the pitchers they have faced because they had failed miserably in scoring even a single run.
But on Tuesday it worked out quite differently.
Mark Teixeira led off with a single and he was able to advance to second on an error by right-fielder Jeff Francouer. Hochevar then grazed Russell Marrtin with a pitch and Dewayne Wise followed with a sacrifice bunt he was able to leg into a single.
Knowing the Yankees were hitless in their last 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, a paid Yankee Stadium crowd of 37,674 took out their four-leaf clovers, St. Christopher medals and rabbit’s feet and prayed for an end to the misery that has befallen their team.
Derek Jeter answered those prayers by looping a 2-2 pitch from Hochevar into right to score Teixeira with the tying run. Curtis Granderson followed with a slow roller to first that scored Martin and the Yankees had their first lead in the series against the Royals.
Of course, all major slumps are very tough to break and after Cano was walked intentionally to load the bases again, Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez struck out looking. So they were 2-for-7 with RISP in the game? So what? They won!
Hochevar gave up three runs on six hits and three walks and struck eight in 6 2/3 innings.
The Royals scored their first run in the third inning on a one-out RBI double by Humberto Quintero, which followed a leadoff single by Irving Falu. The Royals added a run in the fourth on a two-out solo home run off the bat of Francouer.
With the victory the Yankees climb a game above .500 at 22-21. The Royals are 17-25.
- I very much like the way Hughes pitched in this game. He was aggressive early in the count with his fastball. The Quintero double was on a very bad 0-2 pitch that was over the plate. The home run by Francouer came when he fell behind 2-0 and he had to throw a fastball. Hughes’ best pitching came when he walked the bases loaded in the sixth with two outs. He was able to get Falu on a flyout to left to preserve his victory. In his last four starts, Hughes is 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA and he has struck out 23 batters in his last 25 2/3 innings.
- Soriano is settling in nicely as the closer. He is 3-for-3 in save opportunities and he is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA on the season. He has also posted 12 scoreless outings of his 16 appearances this season. He may not be Mariano Rivera but he still is pretty good.
- When Cano last faced Hochevar in Kansas City on May 6 he hit a grand slam home run that led the Yankees to a 10-4 victory that split the series. Cano has six hits off Hochevar in his career, three of them home runs and two of those have been grand slams.
It is not good to dwell on the negative when there has been so much negative associated with the team this month. We are not going down that road.
Rivera paid his first visit to the Yankees clubhouse on Tuesday since he suffered his torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee on May 3 in Kansas City. Rivera is walking without the aid of crutches but he will not undergo knee surgery until he is first treated for a blood clot in his right calf and he strengthens his right knee. . . . The team entered Tuesday’s game 6-for-72 (.083) with runners in scoring position in the past nine games and they were also just one for the last 21 at-bats with the bases loaded until Jeter singled with the bases loaded on Tuesday. Their last hit with bases loaded was Cano’s grand slam off Hochevar on May 6.
After the ticker-tape parade and the presentation of the key to the city by the mayor, the Yankees will play the rubber game of their three-game set with the Royals.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-1, 2.51 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees. Pettitte, 39, is coming off a vintage performance on Friday against the Reds in which he pitched eight shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and one walk while striking out nine in only his second start of his 2012 comeback. In the last 10 seasons against the Royals, Pettitte is 8-2 with a 3.80 ERA.
The Royals are starting 22-year-old left-hander Will Smith, who will be making his major-league debut. He was 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. I guess manager Ned Yost figures why not throw a rookie because the Yankees’ offense may be in no condition to do much damage to him.
Game-time will be at 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast by the YES Network.
YANKEES 10, ROYALS 4
Once again the Yankees witnessed a starting pitcher who failed to get past the third inning and surrendered seven runs. But this time it wasn’t a Yankee starter.
Phil Hughes pitched into the seventh inning and New York pounded Kansas City’s Luke Hochevar for six runs in the third inning – punctuated by a grand-slam home run from Robinson Cano – as the Yankees salvaged a split of a four-game road series on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.
Hughes (2-4) gave up three runs on six hits and one walk and struck seven in 6 2/3 innings in an effort that may yet keep him in the starting rotation.
Hochevar (2-3), a former No. 1 draft pick in 2006, gave up seven runs on seven hits and one walk and he lasted only 2 1/3 innings.
The Yankees, who have been struggling to score runs for the past six games, broke out in a big way in the third inning with the score knotted at 1-1.
Dewayne Wise, making only his second start for the Yankees, opened the frame with a single and Derek Jeter followed it up with a bunt single. Curtis Granderson then smacked an RBI single into right-field to score Wise and it gave the Yankees a lead they would never relinquish the rest of the afternoon.
Hochevar then compounded his problems by hitting Alex Rodriguez on the left elbow with a pitch, which loaded the bases and Cano made him pay for it dearly.
Cano, who entered the game with an uncharacteristic .255 average with a home run and four RBIs, doubled his home run and RBI total by walloping a 2-1 change-up into the pavilion deep in right-center.
One out later, Nick Swisher, who was returning to the lineup for the first time since he left a game on April 29 with a strained left hamstring, blasted a 1-2 Hochevar fastball deep in the bleachers down the right-field line. Hochevar’s day was done and the Royals were left stunned looking up out of an early 7-1 hole.
The Royals rallied to score single runs in the fifth and seventh innings but Rodriguez put the game out of reach for good with a three-run blast of his own in the eighth inning off Royals reliever Tommy Hottovy.
With the victory, the Yankees improved their season record to 15-13. The Royals dropped to 9-18.
- It was good to see Hughes pitch a solid game and command his fastball to earn seven strikeouts. Pitch count is still an issue because Hughes threw 20 or more pitches in three of the first four innings. But Hughes did retire 14 of the 18 batters he faced after getting the 7-1 lead as he started the bottom of the third inning. This outing is something Hughes can build upon.
- Cano was 2-for-5 and his home run was the key blow of the game. Yankee fans had to scratching their heads wondering what was going on with one of the best pure hitters in the game struggling with only one home run and four RBIs on May 6. It is hard to say if the slump is over but Cano’s bat is very important to the offense and the team’s overall success.
- Rodriguez’s home run was his fifth of the season and his first since April 27 in a game against the Tigers. His three RBIs were his first RBIs since April 29 in a game also against the Tigers. The Yankees have gone through a major offensive slump largely due to slow starts by Cano, Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira and injuries to Swisher and Brett Gardner.
- All Jeter did was go 2-for-3 with two walks and he scored two runs. It was just another day at the office for “The Captain.” Jeter’s batting average is .397, which is the best in the major leagues.
- Russell Martin was 3-for-4 and his solo homer provided the Yankees’ only offense on Saturday. On Sunday, Martin was 0-for-5, including two infield groundouts, hitting into a double play and he was called out on strikes in his final at-bat. His average is at .192 and the Yankees could use consistent offense from him.
Swisher cleared all of the medical hurdles in order to return to the lineup as the designated hitter on Sunday. He homered in his second at-bat and the home run was his seventh of the season. Swisher hopes to be able to return to right-field when the Yankees open their homestand on Tuesday. . . . Meanwhile, Gardner tested his ailing right elbow in the batting cage at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday and he will head out to play in two or three minor-league rehab games at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before being activated from the 15-day disabled list. . . . Eric Chavez, who is on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion is expected to be activated on Thursday, which is the first day he would be eligible to return to action. . . . In his fourth minor-league rehab start on Sunday, Andy Pettitte gave up five runs (three earned) on eight hits over five innings for Scranton in a loss to Pawtucket. Pettitte, 39, admitted he did not pitch as well as he would have liked but he said he feels ready to join the Yankees immediately. However, general manager Brian Cashman, who was not in attendance at the game, will make the determination if Pettitte requires another start or not.
The wounded and struggling Yankees get a well-deserved day off on Monday to collect their thoughts before opening a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday.
Right-hander Ivan Nova (3-1, 5.58 ERA) will open the series for the Yankees. Nova had his 15-game winning streak that dated back to June of last year snapped in a game against the Orioles on Wednesday. Nova gave up five runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings. He is 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA in his career against the Rays.
The Rays will start right-hander James Shields (5-0, 3.05 ERA). Shields struck out 11 in 6 innings for a victory against the Mariners on Wednesday. Shields is 5-11 with a 4.39 ERA against the Yankees in his career.
Game-time will be 7:05 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by the MLB Network and locally by the YES Network.
ROYALS 5, YANKEES 1
The Yankees made Felipe Paulino look like Roy Halladay in throwing six shutout innings just coming off the disabled list and Billy Butler drove in three runs as Kansas City defeated a punchless, lifeless New York team on Saturday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, MO.
Paulino (1-0) gave up four hits, walked two and struck out six.
Meanwhile, Hiroki Kuroda (2-4) surrendered three runs (two earned) on six hits and three walks and he fanned two in 4 1/3 innings.
Alex Gordon tied a career high with four hits for the Royals.
The Yankees fell to 14-13 and the Royals are 9-17.
- The Yankees managed only eight hits in the game and Russell Martin collected three of them. He also provided the Yankees’ lone run of the game with a solo home run in the seventh inning off Royals reliever Jose Mijares for his third home run of the season. Coming into the game, Martin had the lowest batting average among the regulars but he appears to be coming out of his long slump.
- Curtis Granderson had a pair of doubles in the game and was 2-for-4. It is feast of famine with Granderson as he struck out swinging in his other two at-bats. But Granderson has raised his batting average to .279.
- Freddy Garcia pitched two scoreless innings of relief and he has now thrown four consecutive innings of shutout baseball and lowered his season ERA to 9.68. Garcia is likely to remain the bullpen for the time being but he could get another shot to start again if he can continue to throw up some zeroes.
- Kuroda has been maddeningly inconsistent in his first six starts, In his three good starts, he is 2-1 with a 1.25 ERA.In his three bad starts, he is 0-3 and has given up 15 runs (12 earned) on 24 hits and seven walks in 14 1/3 innings. That is an ERA of 7.54 and a WHIP of 2.16. As the No. 2 starter, Kuroda has to show more consistency.
- Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira combined to go 1-for-11 in the game and 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. With no punch in the middle of the order the Yankees’ offense is not producing runs and these three guys have a lot to do with the drought.
- The bullpen kind of sprung a leak at a bad time. Cody Eppley and Boone Logan combined to give up two key runs in the sixth inning. The runs were charged to Eppley but Logan allowed a sacrifice fly to Jarrod Dyson and an RBI double to Gordon that made the score 5-0.
The Yankees will look to earn a split of the series with the Royals on Sunday.
Phil Hughes (1-4, 7.48 ERA) is coming off his best start of the season, but it was a loss to the Orioles because the he did not get any run support. He is 2-1 with a 6.78 ERA against the Royals in his career.
Hughes will be opposed by struggling right-hander Luke Hochevar (2-2, 7.36 ERA). Hochevar has given up a total of 12 runs in the first inning alone in his two losses. He is 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA against the Yankees.
Game-time will be 2:10 p.m. EDT and the game will be telecast nationally by TBS and locally by the YES Network.