There's not much you can say about games like today. It is quite difficult to win games on days when the hitting, pitching, defense, and baserunning don't really show up. Baseball's weird like that; the 2005 Yankees, who won 95 games and the AL East, went 8-11 against the 95-loss Devil Rays. Such anomalies also seem to be occurring in this series, as the Yankees have now dropped two out of three games against a Kansas City Royals team that is not very good and had not won at home once this year before playing the Yankees.
Hiroki Kuroda started today for the Yankees and had a very Jekyll-and-Hyde performance. He induced 1-2-3 innings in the second and fourth against the same trio of Chris Getz, Alcides Escobar, and Jarrod Dyson, but the heart of the Royals' lineup hit him hard. The game got off to a poor start as Derek Jeter made an error to start the game on a Dyson grounder. Alex Gordon singled him to third, and Gordon moved to second himself after Kuroda uncorked a wild pitch. Both runners came around to score after Billy Butler lined a ball down the left-field line, and the Royals would never relinquish the lead. Kuroda ran into trouble again in the third after a soft single and a couple of walks, but he left the bases loaded by inducing a fly ball from Humberto Quintero.
Meanwhile, the Yankees offense was busy doing absolutely nothing against Royals starter Felipe Paulino. Now, I'm sure Paulino is a great guy, but he is not a pitcher who should be shutting the Yankees down. He's a 28-year-old with a career ERA of 5.28 and a career FIP of 4.18. He's not exactly Roy Halladay out there, but he no-hit the Yankees for 4.1 innings until Raul Ibanez singled against him in the fifth inning. The score was still 2-0, and the Yankees had a chance to tie the game after Martin singled Ibanez to second, but after a DeWayne Wise flyout and an Eduardo Nunez walk to load the bases, Jeter softly grounded out to end the threat.
Kuroda was knocked out of the game in the fifth inning after another hard-hit RBI double by Butler and a Jeff Francoeur single to put runners on second and third with one out. Kuroda's final line on the day was not awful (4.1 innings, six hits, two earned runs, three walks, and two strikeouts), but the Yankees were clearly looking for something much better than that against the Royals. Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley got the Yankees out of the inning, but Eppley created problems in the sixth when he walked the light-hitting Getz on four pitches and gave up a hit to Escobar (the number nine hitter). Boone Logan relieved Eppley, and the Royals tacked on two more runs with a sac fly and an Alex Gordon RBI double. Lefties now have a .357 OBP against the lefty Logan. Yay. Freddy Garcia actually threw two stress-free innings to close out the bullpen's day, so I guess that was good for him. Smoke and mirrors away!
Curtis Granderson doubled to lead off the sixth when the score was still 3-0, but made a poor decision to try to make to third base on a fly ball to Francoeur in right field. It is extremely well-known in baseball circles that one of the only things Francoeur has going for him is his arm, but apparently Granderson didn't get that memo. Robinson Cano, immediately singled afterward. Of course. He was stranded, but the Yankees did finally get on the board after a long solo homer by Martin in the seventh against reliever Jose Mijares. Martin actually had a good day with a 3-for-4 performance that pushed his batting average over the Mendoza Line to .206, so kudos to him for that, I suppose. The Yankees ended the game by stranding runners on doubles in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. Huzzah.
The Yanks will need a good game from Phil Hughes (gulp) tomorrow if they want to salvage a split in Kansas City.
Comment of the Game: longtimelistener, on why the hitters were not getting the fans' message to actually do something.