Sonny Gray pitched his best game of the year, helping the Yankees win the series and maintain their slim percentage-points lead over Boston for first place in the American League East. New York blasted four home runs and pummeled the Royals 10-1 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Gray was flat out brilliant today. After falling behind 2-0 to the first batter he faced, Gray quickly got on track. He retired Jon Jay on a groundout and the next two batters on strikeouts. Gray went on to throw first-pitch strikes to 23 of the remaining 29 batters he faced.
The right-hander completed four perfect innings on only 40 pitches. Sadly, his bid for a perfect game was spoiled in the fifth. With two outs, Hunter Dozier hit a dying quail to center, which dropped in front of Aaron Hicks for a single.
The Yankees really needed a bounce-back game from Gray, who got hammered for five runs in five innings during his last start. They got what they wished for and then some. Today, Gray really looked like the ace New York traded for last July.
The defensive play of the game came in the third. Ronald Torreyes made a diving stop in the shortstop hole, got up, and fired quickly to nip Drew Butera at first base. The play kept Gray’s perfect game intact with the teams still locked in a scoreless dual.
The Bombers hit one rocket after another off Royals starter Eric Skoglund. Unfortunately, they were mostly hit right at people through the first three innings. That changed, however, in the fourth.
After Aaron Hicks worked a seven-pitch walk, Tyler Austin crushed a no-doubt-about-it homer off the stairs beyond the left-field bleachers, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Miguel Andujar launched the next pitch to the center-field wall, legging out a triple. Austin Romine drove him in with a soft line-drive single to left.
New York took a commanding 6-0 lead in the fifth. Giancarlo Stanton belted a one-out double, and Hicks tripled him home. Austin followed with his second two-run home run of the game.
The Yankees kept piling on, though. In the eighth, Romine led off with a double and moved to third on a Torreyes single. Gardner drove Romine in when he reached on a little dribbler in no-man’s land down the first base line. Torreyes later scored on a wild pitch to make it 8-0. Andujar and Romine hit back-to-back homers with one out in the ninth to complete the Yankees’ scoring.
The Royals ended Gray’s shutout bid in the eighth. After Dozier led off with a single. Gleyber Torres made a nice play on a hot shot to nab Alex Gordon at first. Dozier moved to second on the play, and scored on a single by Jay. AJ Cole came on for mop-up duty in the ninth.
With the win, Gray evens his record at 3-3, while lowering his ERA to 5.48. He completed eight innings, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out four and walked one. Gray entered the game having walked nearly six batters per nine innings over his mostly terrible 2018 campaign. Seeing him regain control today was great.
The Bombers pounded out 14 hits on the day. Their four home runs comes on the heels of the five-homer outburst last night. The Yankees are now 24-1 when their pitchers allow four or fewer runs.
This was Austin’s second multi-homer game of the season, with the last one coming during Opening Weekend in Toronto. Today was the 11th time a Yankees player hit two home runs in a game this season. It was the team’s first game with multiple triples.
The Yankees begin a three game set against the Rangers in Arlington tomorrow night. Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.73 ERA) faces off against the ageless one, 44-year-old Bartolo Colon (2-1, 2.82 ERA). First pitch is set for 8:05 PM EDT.