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Yankees 6, Royals 8: A rough day for Yankee pitching

The Yankees bullpen lets one slip away late against the Royals.

Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

This one was not the most fun to watch, honestly. The Yankees’ bats were dormant for virtually the entire game, and after a strong first four innings, the pitching had a tough time containing the Royals offense. New York still carried a 6-5 lead into the ninth, but Salvador Perez crushed a three-run homer off Clay Holmes to propel KC to an 8-6 win. I probably shouldn’t complain about taking three of four, but it feels like the Yankees left the sweep on the table.

Jordan Montgomery definitely looked better early than he did in his last start against the Mets. Although he gave up a single to Royals wunderkind Bobby Witt Jr., Monty navigated the first unscathed, highlighted by a swinging strikeout of Perez. In the second, he really went to work, striking out the side, all swinging.

Monty decided to have a little bit of pity for KC’s bats in the third and actually let them make some contact. Of course, when that “contact” includes a popped-up bunt attempt for the final out of the inning, you don’t really have to worry that you’re getting hit too hard. The fourth inning was more of the same. The Royals managed to put some balls in play, but it was another three-up, three-down frame for Monty, whose pitch count (54 pitches) through four had him in great shape to go deep into this game if needed.

Veteran Zack Greinke matched Monty though. After striking out DJ LeMahieu to begin the first, the crafty right-hander induced a weak ground ball from the Destroyer of Baseballs Aaron Judge and a fly ball from Anthony Rizzo. When New York came up in the bottom of the second, he once again retired them in order, though Josh Donaldson put a serious charge into a ball to right-center field. It looked like a pitchers’ duel early in the Bronx.

The Yankees finally put a number in the hit column in the bottom of the third. Matt Carpenter, who came into the game a career .323 hitter against Greinke, ripped a double into the right-field corner to lead off the frame. But after a comebacker to Greinke off the bat of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Greinke got Kyle Higashioka to weakly pop up. One last comebacker from DJLM and the threat was by the wayside without Carpenter ever moving.

In the fourth, New York made Greinke work again, this time with a couple of free passes, one to Judge and one to new Yankee and former Royal Andrew Benintendi. Considering Greinke entered today’s start with one of the lowest walk rate in the majors, it behooved the Yankees to make the Royals pay. But they managed nothing of the sort and Greinke got Donaldson to ground out to third to end the frame, stranding two runners.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, between the top of the fourth and the top of the fifth, Monty came completely off the rails. He walked the first two Royals in succession to kick off the fifth frame. A single to center later and the Royals had the sacks juiced. Nick Pratto came through in the clutch. A single from the left fielder scored two and broke the scoreless tie. Don’t walk batters, kids.

One more double from the Royals plated another run and knocked Monty from the game. Four innings of brilliance were followed by five consecutive at-bats that ended in either walks or base hits. It’s not what you want.

Albert Abreu came in for New York and faced an unenviable situation: no one out, three runs already in, runners on second and third, and the top of the order due up. In those circumstances, allowing one inherited runner to score counts as yeoman’s work, as Abreu was at least able to stanch the bleeding.

Meanwhile, Carpenter was trying his best to put some runs on the board. After leading off the third with a double, he did the same thing in the fifth, rapping another two-bagger to almost the same spot. IKF moved Carpenter to third with a ground out to the right side, putting the Yankees on the verge of removing the goose egg from the run column. And a bloop single from Higgy accomplished that.

The lineup turned over, and that meant DJ LeMahieu would have a chance for damage. LeMachine, who’s been on a tear over the last month-plus, continued swinging a big stick. A two-run porch job to right field basically made this a new ballgame, with the Bombers only down by one.

Abreu kept up his good work up in the sixth, but after surrendering a weak infield single, manager Aaron Boone went back to the bullpen. In came Wandy Peralta to try and get the final out of the sixth and keep it a one-run contest. I don’t think a single and a four-pitch walk were what the Yankees skipper and Peralta had in mind though. After the Yankees clawed back in the last half inning, they found themselves one Royals hit from another multi-run deficit. Thankfully, Peralta recovered to get the final out, keeping the game 4-3.

New York took another shot at putting some runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh, as pinch-hitter Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge sandwiched walks around a LeMahieu whiff to put two runners on for the heart of the order. And it did not take long Rizzo to cash all those runs in. The Rizz absolutely obliterated a 98-mph inside fastball to right.

Suddenly, the Yankees had a 6-4 lead and a golden opportunity at a sweep.

The two-run advantage was fleeting; Hunter Dozier rudely greeted Ron Marinaccio with a no-doubt bomb to left field to lead off the eighth inning. Poor Michael Kay had just finished talking about the 56 consecutive batters Marinaccio had faced without surrendering a base hit.

It looked like that dinger was a sign of things to come. Marinaccio managed to get an out, but sandwiched a hard-hit single and walk around that to put two Royals on the bases with only one out in the inning. Thankfully for him, and Yankees fans everywhere, a well-timed ground ball to second turned into an inning-ending double play with the lead still intact.

A quiet bottom of the eighth meant that the All-Star closer Holmes entered with only a one-run lead. Unfortunately, Holmes was also off his game. After a lazy groundball for the first out, he walked Whit Merrifield and plunked Witt, putting the winning run on base. And Sal Perez put this one to bed. A monstrous three-run bomb to center field put Kansas City back on top, 8-6.

After Hicks made the first out of the ninth, LeMahieu did what LeMahieu does and rapped a single to right field. Aaron Judge batted as the tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning, after that deflating Perez home run in the top half of the frame? I’ll take that. Alas, he cannot hit a home run in literally every at-bat.

Judge didn’t miss by much, but flew out to right field nonetheless. Still not over though, as Rizzo walked to bring Gleyber Torres to the plate as the winning run. Alas. A fly ball out to center finished this one off. Feels like the Yankees left the W on the table today.

Despite the loss, taking three of four from the Royals is important after the two losses to the Mets. It’s time to take a deep breath and get ready for Seattle tomorrow night. Marco Gonzales versus Domingo Germán. They’ll miss Julio Rodriguez, as the Mariners placed the young phenom on the IL earlier today. First pitch will be at 7:05pm ET.

Box Score