Since the Yankees have been officially eliminated last weekend, there hasn’t been a ton for them to play for. Yes, they had the chance to play spoiler for the Blue Jays, but other than that, it was mainly about stuff like Gerrit Cole and his efforts toward securing his first career Cy Young Award.
One of the other minor items they had on their plate was finishing above .500. As a franchise, the Yankees have finished above .500 every season since 1992, a streak that seemed in peril at several times this season. It comes as little consolation considering how the rest of the season went, but that streak will continue as the Yankees won their 82nd games of the season with a 5-2 victory over the Royals.
While it was an improvement on Friday night’s first inning, the Yankees did allow the Royals to get on the board in the opening frame. Maikel Garcia started the game for them with a single. While starter Clarke Schmidt got the next two outs, MJ Melendez kept the inning alive with a single before Nelson Velázquez got another one to drop in and score a run.
After the Yankees missed out on chances in the first and third, KC extended their lead in the bottom of the third. Salvador Perez did the damage when he took a Schmidt pitch over the wall in left field for a solo shot. Those would be the only runs Schmidt allowed in his four innings of work.
However, the Yankees did answer back, with a couple runs of their own in the fourth. Gleyber Torres and Jake Bauers got things started by drawing walks to lead off the inning. While Royals pitcher Alec Marsh got the next two outs to get on the verge of escaping the inning, the Yankees would push the runners across. Oswaldo Cabrera and Everson Pereira both singled, scoring a run each to tie the game.
In the fifth inning, we got the strange 2023 debut of Frankie Montas, who had been activated prior to the start of play on Saturday. After missing nearly the entire season, the 2022 Trade Deadline acquisition came in and threw a scoreless fifth.
Montas was then put in position for the win when the Yankees offense’ picked up a couple runs in the sixth. Kyle Higashioka led off the inning with a single, and was then bunted over to second by Cabrera. Two batters later, Estevan Florial singled home the run to give the Yankees their first lead of the day. With the lineup back at the top, DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Judge each worked a walk, loading the bases. Torres then got a fly ball to just drop in center field, adding two more runs.
Montas came back out for the sixth and got one out, but allowed hits to Michael Massey and Dairon Blanco in the process. Aaron Boone would replace him with Greg Weissert, who got a pair of strikeouts to get out of the jam. Montas got one strikeouts in his 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and one walk. He also ended up the winning pitcher thanks to Yankees’ runs in the sixth inning.
Weissert also got the seventh, but was pulled after issuing a walk. Ian Hamilton replaced him and got a pop up and a double play to end the frame. Hamilton followed that with a scoreless eighth, aided by him combining with Anthony Volpe for an inning-ending pickoff of Massey at second. After that, Clay Holmes came in and finished things off with ease, sealing the 82nd win.
With that, we now only have one game left in the season. Tomorrow afternoon, the Yankees will send Michael King to the mound in both the series and season finale. First pitch is at 3:10pm ET, so for the final time in 2023, make sure to join us in the game thread!