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Yankees 5, Royals 8: Pitching falls apart early; offense arrives too late

The Yankees sent Michael Pineda to the mound and a predictable result followed.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Despite what the final score suggests, the Yankees never felt totally in their game against the Royals on Monday. They fell behind by three runs in the first inning, thanks to some ineffectiveness by Michael Pineda, and only chipped away at the Royals’ lead after they were well out of it.

That doesn’t mean they didn’t have their chances. They left nine runners on base and could have definitely inflicted further damage. Multiple batters saw balls fall into the gloves of Kansas City outfielders that may have had a chance to be home runs at Yankee Stadium. So it goes.

Pineda was exactly the pitcher that he has been for most of this season. He was bad early and put it together late and still managed to give up five runs and strike out eight batters. It’s infuriating to watch and completely unsurprising. Pineda lasted six innings even though he struggled to make it out of the first inning. Again, nothing about his performance was unlike what we’ve seen multiple times before.

The offense did show up in the end, scoring four runs in the top of the eighth inning. Unfortunately, it was a half inning after Yankee pitchers combined to surrender five runs. Didi Gregorius was the star of the show on offense, picking up three hits and driving in two runs. Starlin Castro put the Yankees on the board with a double in the fourth, as well as contributing a sac fly in the eighth. Tyler Austin also had two hits.

New York’s middle relief proved shaky once again after coming on for Pineda. Blake Parker allowed a three-run homer to Alcides Escobar that really put the game out of reach. Tommy Layne escaped without any runs charged to him, as did Kirby Yates, but both of them failed to put out the fire in the seventh inning.

The Yankees didn’t have to win the game, but it would have been a positive boost to defeat a team they are chasing for a Wild Card position. Sometimes it feels silly to even talk about them being in contention for it, because it seems like they should be well out of it by now, but they are very much alive in the race. Even with tonight’s loss, the Yankees are only 3.5 games back of Orioles with just over a month left to play. It’s a tall mountain to climb with many teams ahead of them that they would have to jump, but it is, somehow, attainable.

Good news: the Yankees will have another chance to try and beat the Royals tomorrow evening with a much better pitcher on the mound. Masahiro Tanaka gets the start opposite Edinson Volquez at 8:15 pm. Hopefully the results are better the second time around.