Royal Treatment, Yanks Say No KC

AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

Another consistent performance from Gerrit Cole and enough offensive support added up to a 5-2 win over the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Cole tossed 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on five hits with one walk and 10 strikeouts and deserved better than a no decision, as he was already out of the game when the Yankees took the lead.

D.J. LeMahieu, who has been one of the major contributors of this recent offensive malaise, broke a 2-2 tie in the seventh with a solo home run into the right field stands off of Royals reliever and loser Carlos Hernandez.

That’s classic DJ right there, smoking a ball to right center like that,” Yankee Manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees won a series for the first time since late June in Oakland, while it was their 15th consecutive series win against the Royals.

LeMahieu snapped a 24-game homerless streak and his bat has started to finally come around of late. In his last 11 games, LeMahieu has been more like himself by going 13 for 41 (.317). (It may not be a coincidence that he’s started to hit since he knows he’ll be in there every day since Josh Donaldson went down. See Cole’s comment in bold below)

With a hitter like DJ, the more often you get him in there and the more often he throws quality at bats, the more he’s gonna have things kinda break his way. He’s just too good of a hitter,” Cole said after the game.

Giancarlo Stanton clubbed a two out, two run home run in the eighth to give the Yankees some breathing room. It was Stanton’s 13th home run of the season and his sixth in the month of July, one shy of his total for the first three months.

Yanks hope this is the start of one of the slugger’s hot streaks. “We know what he’s capable of when he really locks it in and it’s good to see him, I feel like moving in that direction the last couple of weeks,” said Yankee Manager Aaron Boone.

Clay Holmes got the save by pitching a scoreless ninth, but not without some agita.

After getting the first two outs, Royals DH Edward Olivares singled past a diving Anthony Volpe and first baseman Nick Pratto walked on a close, 3-2 pitch. Following a conference on the mound, Holmes got Royals right fielder Drew Waters looking for the final out to nail down his 13th save.

Cole made one of his few mistakes in the third when Pratto took advantage of Yankee Stadium’s dimensions to tie the game at one. The left handed hitter golfed a 2-2 knuckle curve into a high fly ball that carried into the lower right field stands, just inside the foul pole.

Cole ran into trouble in the fifth but limited the damage. Royals DH Edward Olivares singled to left and Pratto walked to put runners on first and second. Cole struck out Waters and center fielder Kyle Isbel, but Maikel Garcia singled to center on the first pitch to score Olivares to tie the game at two.

Cole got the first out in the seventh and Boone felt it was enough after 99 pitches. “I thought Gerrit was again, great,” he said. “Worked pretty hard in that fifth inning, I just thought his last there innings was a little heavy there. Coming off in the sixth, I said give me one batter.”

Wandy Peralta relieved and got the win after recording the final two outs of the inning. “I felt good about shooting Wandy at that spot with what Gerrit had given us,” Boone said.

Yankees scratched out a run against Royals’ ace Brady Singer in the first. Lead off hitter Billy McKinney walked and Gleyber Torres, who extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games, reached on an infield single. Garcia made a nice diving stop at third but couldn’t get a throw off. During the streak, Torres is hitting .380 (19 for 50).

After the struggling Anthony Rizzo (0 for his last 18 entering the game) bounced into a 3-6-3 double play, Stanton lined a single to center to score McKinney for a 1-0 lead to salvage the inning.

There was an unusual play in the top of the fourth.

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr laid a bunt down the third base line. LeMahieu let it roll and touched the ball when it appeared to be foul, but home plate umpire Lance Barrett ruled the ball was fair. The Yankees were frustrated with the call but time was not called and Witt tried to go to second. Cole, who had picked the ball up, threw to Volpe, who was covering, to get the out and snuff out a potential rally.

From my vantage point, I thought it was fair,” Cole said. “I was a little frustrated we didn’t let it go a little farther, obviously I was wrong and it worked out in our favor. We made a good play and collected an out off of it. It’s a good play by DJ, he was right.”

Rizzo snapped an 0 for 20 skid when he singled in the bottom of the sixth. Since the end of May when he was hitting .304, Rizzo is 21 for 133 (.158) with no home runs and seven RBIs.

With Jose Trevino done for the season due to his injured wrist, Ben Rortvedt caught Cole for the first time this season. “I thought it was really fun working with Ben.” Cole said. “We made a lot of good pitches, we out of a jam in the fifth, kept the damage low and stayed efficient enough to get to the seventh.”

Trevino may not have been hitting, but he was a hit with his teammate as he was able to impart some advice on how to handle the Yankees ace. “Talking with him [Trevino] yesterday, got with him early this morning and throughout the entire game,” Rortvedt said. “He was with me in the dugout, walking me through a lot of stuff so it was really good.”

It was a good start for the catcher who qualifies as the Yankees version of “Where’s Waldo?” because he’s appeared in a total of six games since being acquired from Minnesota in March, 2022, but he knew to defer to his pitcher. 

Gerrit’s the ace of this team. He’s Gerrit Cole,” Rortvedt said. “Trying to do my part as much as I can to be there for him. I told him before the game, whatever he wants, whatever he needs from me, I’m there for him.”

The Yankees, who haven’t always been able to take advantage of inferior opponents this season, are now expected to sweep lowly Kansas City.

We just gotta keep doing it. It’s two games, we got a chance to have a great series tomorrow, kinda shift that focus and get ready to go,” Boone said.

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