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Yankees 4, Royals 8: Bullpen and defense sloppy as can be

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This game was far more boring than the score would indicate.

MLB: New York Yankees at Kansas City Royals Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Well, at least this game didn’t take five hours. Unfortunately, the Yankees’ offense was stagnant for seven of nine innings, the defense was truly terrible to the tune of four errors, and the weary bullpen couldn’t keep the club within striking distance. The Yankees will have to wait for another day for a shot at a series win, as they lost on Tuesday night to the Royals, 8-4.

Salvador Perez took Nestor Cortes Jr. deep in the first inning, his 28th of the season, and given how unlikely Cortes’ success has been this year, it raised eyebrows about the proverbial pumpkin he might end up becoming. The Royals were up 2-0 early, but after that, Cortes pitched really well, striking out five without walking a batter. He allowed another unearned run before Sal tagged him again in the sixth, this time for a solo shot.

You can’t decouple the two home runs from the overall start — home runs are something that pitchers have a lot of control over, and like we saw tonight, can drastically change the outcome of a game. I also think that Cortes shouldn’t have been left in to face Perez a third time. He pitched fine, but made mistakes to the other team’s best hitter, and paid for it.

In a marked departure from last night, the Yankees didn’t spend the first six innings flailing away at the plate. Andrew Velazquez knocked a double to the wall in the third inning, and scampered home on a wild pitch two batters later. The run on the wild pitch was the 14th such score for the Yankees this season, the most in baseball and a recurring theme of a season where the club has often failed to bring men in by, y’know, hitting the ball.

Kyle Higashioka chipped in with a two-run bomb that at the time gave the Yankees the lead, just an inning after the wild pitch:

Unfortunately, Higgy’s defense let us down a bit over the course of the game. He’s still an exceptional framer, but wayyy overthrew two steal attempts, missing the infielder on both. The first didn’t hurt the Yankees, but the second, as Whit Merrifield swiped third, led to the Royal trotting home and tying the game at 3-3.

DJ LeMahieu gave the Yankees the lead back in the sixth inning, driving a hard single to right field to score Jonathan Davis. It was exactly the kind of at-bat that fans have grown accustomed to seeing from LeMahieu over the past two years, and we need to see more of for the Yankees to be a real postseason threat.

After that, and Perez’s second home run of the game, it was really up to the bullpen to keep the game close. They did not do that. Stephen Ridings came in with a runner on base, allowed an RBI double to Hunter Dozier that scored that run — technically charged to Cortes — and then gave up another two runs in the seventh, committing an error of his own to add to the defensive struggles:

The Royals certainly tested the big rookie with two bunts, and whether Ridings was rattled or not, he wasn’t as effective as we’d seen so far this year.

Nick Nelson was called upon to work the eighth, and that went about as well as you would expect. The silver lining of his outing is that he hopefully won’t be called upon to work tomorrow, where the Yankees will start Johnny Wholestaff* in an effort to eke out a series win. The rubber match will kick off at 2:10pm Eastern.

*Even after the game, the Yankees did not have a starter or opener to announce. Promising.

Box Score