The Yankees lost 5-4 to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night in Kansas City, and repeatedly not coming through with runners in scoring position proved to be a major reason that they did not sweep the worst team in the AL Central.
The Yankees got off to a promising beginning as Curtis Granderson blasted a 401 foot home run into the waterfall in the first inning. In Granderson’s second at-bat, in the top of the third, he hit a deep line drive off the bottom of the wall in left field for a double. This was the 34th homer and 95th RBI for the MVP candidate. However, Royals pitching repeatedly halted the Yankees’ bats with men on base.
Royals starter Bruce Chen actually outpitched Barolo Colon during this game. Chen is a crafty veteran, who has pitched for nine teams throughout his career and has always been a middle to end of a rotation starter. This was actually a surprising start by Chen because for his career he has a 6.52 ERA against the Yankees. However, for Colon, besides the third inning he actually did not pitch so poorly.
Bartolo Colon pitched unlike his normal self in the third inning since he allowed a three-run homer by Alex Gordon followed by a solo shot by Billy Butler. However, it did appear that Butler’s home-run should have been temporary because it looked like it hit the very top of the wall and bounced back onto the field. The umpires took about 10 minutes to review the call after Joe Girardi insisted that they do so, but they should have been able to realize that they made the wrong call the first time since they were looking at video replay. Kim Jones even said that, Frank White, a Royals announcer, was sure that it should have been a double because of the mark the ball left.
Chen continued to confuse the Yankee batters in the fifth inning as he forced Nick Swisher to hit into a double play to end the inning. This is becoming a trend for Swisher as he did not pick up an RBI in the series against the Royals and in his past 10 games he has only driven in two.
Cano continued to show his gold glove potential as he started a double play off of a ball hit in the hole by Jeff Francoeur. This was critical as the Royals were threatening to extend the lead. Mark Teixeira also made a very impressive play off an errant throw by Derek Jeter, to get the second out of the seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, the Yankees looked like they were on the verge of another rally but Royals reliever Louis Coleman struck out three batters in a row after Derek Jeter had singled and Granderson walked. Swisher struck out looking on a full count with two outs, and that really hurt because it continued a game for him where he had not come through with ducks on the pond.
With the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning Robinson Cano came up, had a long at bat, and was able to drive in a run on a sac fly to make the score 5-4. However, he is now 0-9 against the Royals closer Joakim Soria. Soria, (The Mexicutioner) with Nick Swisher batting, threw a wild pitch, which allowed runners to advance to second and third, would go on to walk Swisher on four pitches. Then, Posada who pinch hit for Andruw Jones earlier had the chance to be the hero again.
Unfortunately, Posada went down looking on an outside fastball, which appeared a little high, but was obviously too close of a pitch to not swing at. A few years ago Posada would have likely been able to drive the ball to left field.
A major factor that caused the Yankees to lose this game was that they left 11 runners on base. In addition, Granderson, Swisher, Russell Martin and Posada twice did not come through with runners in scoring position with two outs. Martin and Granderson can’t completely be blamed because they both hit home runs in the game, driving in half of the teams runs.
Derek Jeter also continued his impressive play of late, getting four hits during the game and he now has 11 hits in his last four games. Unfortunately none of those hits by Jeter during the loss to the Royals were able to come with men on base. If they were able to come with runners in scoring position not as much blame would go against the umpire who blew the call, as well as against Colon.
(When the umpires met for 10 minutes to look at the video they should have realized that it was not a homer but the Yankees offense is more to blame since they had many opportunities to take the lead later on and did take advantage.)
It is not the most promising sign that Ivan Nova and Bartolo Colon had poor starts back-to-back but the way that they have pitched for most of the season leads one to believe that they will bounce back during their next start. Nova is a possible Rookie of the Year candidate, while Colon will probably get Comeback Player of the Year. Nova and Colon are two major reasons that the Yankees are in first place in the AL East by half a game, as a result of the Rays shutting out the Red Sox.
The Yankees now travel to Minnesota to face the struggling Twins, who are in fourth place in the AL Central. They have a four-game series and for this match-up at the Target Center the Yankees need to be able to win at least three-games.