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Yankees 9, Royals 2: New York wins the battle, loses the star

Aaron Judge’s oblique injury casts a huge shadow over what should have been a fun win

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Tragically Hip once wrote that everything is bleak, and it’s the middle of the night. Despite the Yankees winning big over the Royals, with pretty much every player getting in on the fun, the result is bleak, as Aaron Judge left the game with a left oblique injury in the sixth inning.

We have a writeup about the Judge injury here, so I’m not going to spend too much time on it other than to just generally lament that it is awful hard to get excited about a baseball team when every game feels like it comes at the cost of another regular player. Mike Tauchman and Gio Urshela have impressed in their fill-in roles – more on them in a bit – but the near-daily injury scares and diagnoses have been pretty difficult to live with.

Anyway, the game. Masahiro Tanaka was spectacular, as he’s been for most of the season. He got into a little trouble in the first, walking two men and giving the Royals a chance to break the game open early, but worked out of it with the score still 0-0. That was really the best chance Kansas City had all day, as aside from a Whit Merrifield home run, Tanaka was on complete lockdown.

Tanaka’s final line was 7 IP, 4 H, and 1 ER, with seven strikeouts against three walks. The crux of his performance came in the third inning, where Billy Hamilton tripled to lead off the inning on what could be classified as a misplay by first baseman Luke Voit. A speedster like Hamilton, on third with nobody out, is not a good indicator for the rest of the inning, but Tanaka locked things down, striking out the next two Royals and inducing a groundball to get out of the inning.

Offensively, the team pretty much did it all. Aaron Judge made the Royals pay for failing to score in the first, hitting his fifth dinger of the year into the right field seats. Clint Frazier followed him an inning later, continuing his scorching start to the season. If Judge misses any kind of significant time, Frazier’s really going to be leaned on in the lineup, and he looks up to the task so far this year.

Then came the third inning, and the Gleyber Torres Fly Ball. His apparent three-run bomb was overturned on replay, as it was determined that a fan interfered on the play, keeping the ball out of Alex Gordon’s glove. To me, calling Torres out was against the spirit of replay – we hear all the time that you can’t assume a double play when assessing errors or RBI, but MLB’s replay center determined that we could assume Gordon would rob a home run. I think a better call would be assessing a ground-rule double or something along those lines, rather than stipulating that Gordon would have unequivocally made the catch.

Of course, an inning later the controversy didn’t matter, as Mike Tauchman continued his hot streak with a three-run homer, and DJ LeMahieu followed with his first dong as a Yankee. All in all, the team recorded 14 hits and 4 walks, doing exactly what they should do against the Royals.

Last note: Jonathan Holder is still playing very poorly, especially when it comes to his fastball, as he gave up a home run, walk and a double in two innings of mop-up work. He worked his way into the Circle of Trust last year, and has worked himself right out this year.

The series finale goes off tomorrow, with James Paxton looking to build off his fantastic start against the Red Sox. The big story will be watching for Aaron Judge updates, though. Everything is bleak, and it’s the middle of the night.