To be frank, the Royals are not very good. For all the talk from earlier in the season of how historically bad the Athletics could be, the Royals went into Sunday just half a game ahead of Oakland in the standings. A series win was about the least you ask of the Yankees.
Still, they needed to go out and win these games, and they did. In Sunday’s series finale, they finished off the sweep with a couple of good signs. Luis Severino put in a solid outing, but the star of the day for the Yankees was Anthony Rizzo. He’s struggled mightily of late, but he came alive in this one. His four hit day was highlighted by his first home run in over two months, as he helped the Yankees to an 8-5 win over the Royals.
Before the game, there were plenty of jokes flying around considering Jordan Lyles’ stats and the Yankees’ struggles against other pitchers who similarly shoddy numbers on the season. However this time, the offense avoided that and jumped on Lyles early. In his first at-bat since returning from the injured list, Jake Bauers reached base with a single to start the bottom of the first. Gleyber Torres then followed that by extending his hit streak to 13 games with a two-run homer. A Giancarlo Stanton single and a Rizzo double then made it 3-0 before Lyles had still recorded an out. He finally got one when DJ LeMahieu grounded out, but that moved Rizzo to third, from where he scored on a Harrison Bader single.
The Yankees added to their lead in the third thanks to a rare occurrence. Our long nightmare came to an end when Rizzo hit a solo shot for his first home run since May 20th.
While it was still the three-time All-Star’s 12th on the season, the long drought prompted his teammates to give him the silent treatment when he returned to the dugout.
They gave Rizzo the silent treatment pic.twitter.com/e0MCISvy2Z— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) July 23, 2023
The Royals got on the board themselves in the fourth inning. Salvador Perez hit a solo shot of his own, cutting into the Yankees’ lead to 5-1.
Kansas City then got even closer in the sixth inning. To start the inning, Severino had gotten a little bit of help when Bobby Witt Jr. was thrown out at second on a stole base attempted, having started the frame with a single. After MJ Melendez picked up a double, Severino got a second out to get on the verge of ending the inning. However, Michael Massey homered for the third time this series, finishing Sevy’s day with New York only ahead by two. In 5.2 innings, Severino allowed three runs on eight hits with five strikeouts. For a while, he did seem to be cruising along to another good outing, but the Massey homer did put a bit of a damper on his day.
Ian Hamilton replaced Severino and got out of the sixth, before following up with a scoreless seventh. He now has a 1.71 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 31.2 innings on the season and continues to be a terrific minor bullpen find. Bader lent Hamilton an assist by making a terrific catch at the wall on a drive to the right-center-field wall.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Yankees sent up Anthony Volpe as a hitter for Gleyber Torres. As mentioned earlier, Torres has been one of the better hitters for the Yankees of late, and a two-run lead is not big enough of one for a “get some rest” late inning substitution. That led to injury speculation, which was later confirmed when the team said that he was out with hip tightness. We shall see what happens from here.
Michael King was brought on for the eighth inning, and he ran into some trouble, allowing singles to two of the first three batters he faced. He then got a well-timed pair of strikeouts to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees picked up a couple insurance runs. Rizzo recorded his fourth hit of the day when he led off the inning with a single. LeMahieu followed that with a walk, and Bader bunted them both into scoring position. After an intentional walk to Billy McKinney, Oswald Peraza then hit a ground ball to first base. Nick Pratto fielded the ball and attempted to flip it a pitcher Scott Barlow at first base. Regrettably for KC, Barlow was not yet close to the bag.
The error allowed the ball to roll into foul territory, scoring a pair of runs. Kyle Highashioka then added a run on a sac fly, giving the Yankees some more breathing room for the ninth.
Said breathing room ended up becoming useful when Freddy Fermin led off the ninth inning with a homer off Ron Marinaccio. Two batters later, Kyle Isbel added another home run, making those three eighth inning runs the difference in the score. Marinaccio finished things off after that, getting the third out before things got even more iffy.
After a day off tomorrow, the Yankees will be back in action on Tuesday night at 7:05pm ET for an interleague set against the Mets. Domingo Germán will square off with Justin Verlander in what will be a bit of a step up in competition. Sorry, Royals.