The Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees swept the three-game series from the Royals, who had the best record in the American League before the series began.
Michael Pineda rebounded from his two shaky starts after striking out 16 batters on Mother’s Day. He pitched 6.2 innings while only allowing one earned run and striking out eight. Pineda had much better command of his slider on Wednesday against the Royals than he did in his previous two starts where he allowed four and five earned runs. The only run that Pineda allowed was a solo homer to Mike Moustakas in the first inning.
Pineda now has six wins (2nd in the AL), a 3.36 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP (10 in the AL) and 67 strikeouts (4th in the AL). He was able to pitch like the ace of the staff that he is and help the Yankees sweep the Royals, who have the best team average in the AL.
A mechanical adjustment that Pineda said that he made was that he tried to stay back and keep his arm up to improve his slider. According to Pineda, he was able to not get out in front too quick like he had in his previous starts. When Pineda’s slider is on he is one of the best starters in baseball.
Brian McCann hit his sixth homer of the season in the second inning, but more significantly, Alex Rodriguez hit a home run in the third inning against Chris Young that scored Chase Headley and Brett Gardner to give the team all the runs that they would need. That homer was his 665th of his career, and increased his career total to 1,995 RBIs.
He is now behind only Barry Bonds (1,996) and Hank Aaron (2,297) on the all-time list, and now has two more RBIs than Lou Gehrig, which means that he has the most RBIs in the history of the American League, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. After his two hits last night, A-Rod is now only 19 hits away from being the 29th baseball player with 3,000 hits.
”You see the guys that he’s passing, and it’s really pretty amazing,” Girardi said. ”It’s longevity, but it’s also being productive for an extremely long time.”
The Yankees start a series tonight against the Oakland Athletics (17-32), who have the worst record in the American League. Mark Teixeira and Rodriguez, who have been a key part of the team’s improved play this season, have the most homers by active players vs the A’s while playing in Oakland (Rodriguez has 21 and Teixeira has 20).
Teixeira (14 homers) and Rodriguez (11 homers) have both performed better than anyone could have expected at the beginning of the season as they are second and fifth in the American League in homers. They are both healthy and have made the offense capable of scoring many more runs than it did last year.
CC Sabathia, who is from nearby Vallejo, will get the start for the Yankees. Sabathia, who has a high 5.47 ERA and 1.42 WHIP, will look to bounce back from allowing six runs on seven hits in only 2.1 innings in his previous start against the Texas Rangers. He has showed that his stuff can still lead to a successful start since on May 16 in Kansas City he pitched seven innings while only allowing one run and striking out five.
Kendall Graveman, who is making his sixth start of the season and sixth of his career, has a very high 6.04 ERA in 22.1 innings. This is the lineup that the Yankees, who are in first by 1.5 games in the AL East, will send out against the Athletics.
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Alex Rodriguez DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Carlos Beltran RF
Stephen Drew 2B
Slade Heathcott CF
Didi Gregorius SS