The New York Yankees won their third straight series, taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals. With momentum building for a showdown in Boston, the Yankees gained on their rivals through clutch hitting and gutsy pitching.
Loaisiga Lapse Loses Yankees Game One
A rare ignominious outing from Jonathan Loaisiga led the Royals over the Yankees 6-5 on Tuesday. Holding a one-run lead from Gerrit Cole in the eighth, Loaisiga allowed four runs on five hits, his worst line since May 7th against Washington. Slight misplays from Tyler Wade and DJ LeMahieu in the eighth attributed to the loss, but no more costly was the Yankees’ inability with RISP. Going 0-10 with RISP and leaving 13 on base, the Yankees couldn’t capitalize on their whopping 17 baserunners this evening. Strikeouts in key situations were the highlight, with Gleyber Torres’ golden sombrero and Clint Frazier‘s trifecta leading the way. Giancarlo Stanton and Frazier also accounted for seven of those Yankees left on base.
Curiously, the team’s inability with RISP forced a tinkering managerial move from Aaron Boone in the seventh. Wade ran for Luke Voit in the seventh following the returning first baseman’s triple and scored on the subsequent wild pitch. LeMahieu took over at first with Wade taking over at second, but the two couldn’t turn Ryan O’Hearn’s RBI-grounder into the second out in the eighth. Wade then hesitated before throwing home on a Jarrod Dyson grounder, allowing Carlos Santana to score the go-ahead run. It was a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t in a pinch-running situation for Aaron Boone. Just unfortunately for his ball club, the ripple effect of the change potentially cost them the game.
Sanchez, Voit Pick Up ‘Pen with Walk-off Win
A nightmarish blown save turned into Aroldis Chapman’s fifth win in a flash on Wednesday evening. A cueball single followed a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to put the Royals ahead in the ninth. Chapman couldn’t contain his frustration, as gloves and screams were thrown for all to see. Undoubtedly, Chapman was perturbed with both himself and Boone for his choice to intentionally walk Santana to load the bases. But following Gary Sánchez’s game-tying laser, Voit drove a double off the wall in left, scoring Wade and giving the Yankees a 5-4 win.
The win further papered over the cracks within the Yankees offense. Apart from the ninth, the Yankees offense came from a two-run double by Frazier and a two-run homer from Rougned Odor. The Yankees were afforded numerous opportunities to break the game open, receiving a season-high 11 walks while grounding into two more double plays. Aaron Judge struggled in particular with four strikeouts, continuing his recent sub-par stretch. In his last ten, Judge has a .255 OBP and just one RBI. A red-hot Sanchez hitting third might be the perfect avenue to awaken Judge’s slumbering bat. But a shift in approach to his right-center power alley could also do the trick.
Taillon Deals, Offense Surges in Yankees Victory
A literal night and day performance by Judge led the Yankees to an 8-1 win over the Royals on Thursday afternoon. Waiting on off-speed pitches and directing his power to right-center, Judge went 3-3 with a homer and two RBIs. Voit and Sánchez homered again, with the latter hitting his three-run shot deep into the Royals bullpen. Odor and Stanton also added excellent days at the dish, each recording three hits and an RBI.
The offense backed Jameson Taillon’s efficient and effective start. Earning his second win, the righty allowed one run with six strikeouts in 6.1 innings, tying his longest outing in pinstripes. Taillon’s best performances have been in the Bronx this season, with Thursday’s start lowering his home ERA to 3.04. While still searching for consistency away from home, Taillon showed he has the stuff necessitating a run-out every fifth day. Nestor Cortes Jr. also continued his excellent form since his late May callup. The crafty lefty struck out five in his 2.2 innings of shutout ball, closing out the game though falling an out short of a three-inning save.
Series Notes and Look Ahead
Darren O’Day and Justin Wilson began their rehab stints in Scranton on Tuesday, throwing clean innings with 22 and 18 pitches respectively. Gio Urshela is still day-to-day following his negative X-rays on his shin. If all goes well, Urshela will be back in Boston and the two relievers by next week’s homestand.
Since their sweep of the Yankees and prior to playing Thursday evening, the Red Sox are 8-7 with a combined 5.91 ERA and -20 run differential. In the same span, the Yankees are 8-5 with a 4.84 ERA and a +4 run differential. This will be the longtime rivals’ first meeting at Fenway Park in 2021. Domingo Germán, Jordan Montgomery, and Gerrit Cole will start the weekend set.