Just looking at this final score alone, there are two things about this game you wouldn’t necessarily guess.
The first is that James Paxton was excellent once again. He went six innings, allowing just three hits and a walk, while striking out 12. He joined David Cone as the only Yankees pitcher to strike out 12 or more hitters in back-to-back games.
The other is that the Yankees ran out the C+ lineup of an already injury-depleted roster. They scored seven runs on 12 hits. They were 4-for-8 with runners in scoring position and generally had a good day at the plate. The offense was far from the problem.
The reason this game was so close and went to extra innings was because of the bullpen. The Yankees were up 5-0 going into the eighth, but multiple members of the bullpen couldn’t hang on to that giant lead. By the time the eighth was over, the Yankees were losing. Luckily for them, the Royals bullpen also isn’t great.
Austin Romine delivered a game-tying hit in the eighth, and a game-winning one in the 10th. Those two hits saved the day, and gave the Yankees a 7-6 win on Sunday.
After yesterday’s home run barrage, the Yankees opened the game’s scoring in a fairly opposite manner. DJ LeMahieu led off the game for the Yankees with a double down the first base line. Thanks to a fly out, he was able to move up to third. That came in a handy when a Jorge Lopez pitch got past the catcher, allowing LeMahieu to sneak home.
An inning later, the makeshift heart of the Yankees’ order helped them add to their lead. With two outs in the inning, Mike Ford recorded his first major league hit on a double. Romine followed that with a single. Ford made it around to score, doubling the Yankees’ lead.
In the fifth, the Yankees opened up a big lead thanks to the one of the more expected sources. With Luke Voit and Brett Gardner on base via singles, Clint Frazier crushed a 429-foot home run, over the bullpen in left center.
After allowing a lead-off double and a walk to start the seventh, Aaron Boone decided that would be the end of Paxton’s day.
Yankees fans show their appreciate for James Paxton following his 12-strike out performance. pic.twitter.com/NGhcBYL74B— YES Network (@YESNetwork) April 21, 2019
Tommy Kahnle came in for him and finished off the inning, insuring a scoreless outing for Paxton.
Things were going about as well as they could for the Yankees until the top of the eighth.
Chad Green started the inning and promptly loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Just like that, Green was knocked out of the game. Adam Ottavino came in for him, but that didn’t change the Yankees’ fortunes, as Adalberto Mondesi hit a two-run double. Alex Gordon followed, and he hit a three-run home run, tying the game. Hunter Dozier immediately followed that up with a home run of his own. Before you knew it a five-run lead was gone, and the Yankees were losing.
Thankfully, the Yankees lineup wasn’t quite done scoring yet. After Mike Tauchman led off the bottom of the eighth with a double, Gio Urshela and Ford each grounded out. However, the second ground out moved Tauchman over to third. Romine then managed to poke through a single, evening the game once more.
In the top of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman allowed a lead-off single to Billy Hamilon. Considering Hamilton’s general mediocrity at the plate, that’s not a good result. It especially wasn’t good if you factor in his speed. Hamilton stole second and third, and was in scoring position for the top of the Royals’ lineup. Chapman managed to strand him thanks to a couple strikeouts and a pop up, averting that crisis.
The game would go into extra innings after the Yankees couldn’t pick up a run in the ninth. Zack Britton allowed a lead-off single in the 10th, but then picked off Terrance Gore to erase that. He got the second two outs fairly easily to set the stage for the bottom of the 10th.
The bottom of the 10th started perfectly as Tauchman and Urshela drew walks. Thairo Estrada was then called on to make his major league debut, and laid down the perfect bunt to get the runners into scoring position. For the third time on the day, Romine delivered. He singled to bring home Tauchman and give the Yankees the win.
Bad news is now the Yankees head out west for a week plus of 10:00 PM ET starts. Good news is, they’re expecting to get some people back from injury on the trip.