The Yankees defeated the Kansas City Royals, 7-3, on Thursday night in the Bronx. That victory gave them the series win over the defending World Series champions and their second consecutive series win.
The Bronx Bombers, who are now starting to earn their nickname again, have won six of their last nine games to pull within five games of .500 (14-19). Their winning percentage has been equal to or worse than five games below .500 everyday since April 27 when they were 8-12.
Offensively the Yankees scored six runs or more for the fourth time in their last six games. They had previously scored three runs or less in five of six games. The Yankees are becoming a good team and the Yankees were able to have production from the bottom of the lineup in this game, which teams need to have in order to win consistently.
Chase Headley was 2-3 with two runs scored, two RBIs and his first home run of the season. His homer in the second inning that drove in Carlos Beltran was his first extra-base hit of the season as well. Noah Syndergaard, who is a starting pitcher, had two homers for the Mets on Wednesday.
“It’s been a long time,” Headley said. “Felt like it’s been a really long time.” Headley finished 5th in the National League MVP voting in 2012 after his .286, 31 homer, 115 RBI season, so he is obviously capable of producing power numbers.
The Yankees need Headley, who was hitting 8th in the lineup, to continue his turnaround at the plate as he is 7-20 (.350 average) with five runs scored, one homer and four RBIs in his last six games. This improved play in the last week has increased his average from .151 to .194. Headley’s work in the cage after games recently is now showing on the field. He also made a Gold Glove caliber play to end the game on a ball that took a bad hop.
Didi Gregorius, who was hitting 7th Thursday night, was the second of three Yankees to hit a round tripper. Gregorius’s homer was his only hit of the game, but it was important as it gave the team two more insurance runs in the 4th after the Royals had made the score 3-2. His homer to deep right off of former Yankee Ian Kennedy over the WB Mason sign was off of a hanging curve ball.
It is always a positive when four of the team’s seven runs are driven in by the seven and eight hitters in the lineup.
Starlin Castro, whose .300 average is higher than any everyday player on the team, went 2-4 with two RBIs. He hit his fourth homer of the season in the first inning and singled to right in the seventh to score Headley. Castro is by far the best second baseman that the Yankees have had since Robinson Cano left to go to the Seattle Mariners after the 2013 season. Brian McCann gave the Yankees their seventh run on a bases loaded walk in the 7th, which was his team-leading 16th run batted in.
Nathan Eovaldi (3-2) did not pitch nearly as well as he did in his previous start when he allowed only two runs in eight innings, but he was able to keep the team in the game without having his best command of his pitches. The Royals scored three runs off of him in five innings off of eight hits and two walks.
The Yankees were leading 3-0 going into the 4th but then Alex Gordon hit a homer to deep right center and Christian Colon hit an RBI double to make the score 3-2. Eovaldi nearly finished the fifth inning without allowing a run but Eric Hosmer hit a double with two strikes and two outs. However, he was able to pitch will with two outs and a runner in scoring position since after Gordon’s RBI single he got Salvador Perez to fly out to right to end the inning.
Four Yankee relievers combined to pitch the sixth, seven, eighth and ninth innings and they combined to only allow one hit.
Kirby Yates, who pitched the sixth inning, has somewhat gone under the radar since he has not allowed a run in his last seven innings (7 games) and has struck out eight batters and lowered his ERA from 5.06 to 2.19. The 29-year-old Hawaii native, who is in his third season, is having much more success than he did last season for the Tampa Bay Rays when he had a 7.97 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in 20.1 innings. He will be a valuable pitcher before Girardi gets to his Big Three of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.
The duo of Betances and Miller combined to pitch the 7th and 8th innings and not allow a hit and strikeout two batters. Miller has an outstanding 0.66 ERA and the only run he has given up this year was a solo homer in the second game of the series against the Royals.
The Yankees had a 7-3 lead in the ninth so they were able to save Chapman for the opening game of the series against the first place Chicago White Sox on Friday night. Chicago is somewhat surprisingly 23-12 and five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. The Yankees, who need to win their third consecutive series, could be facing the White Sox at the right time as they have lost their last two games.