The Yankees have been strangely lacking in the home run department early on in 2016. Entering Monday night's game, only three teams in baseball had fewer dingers than the Yankees' total of 25. However, the offense found salvation tonight in the perfect source, Kansas City Royals starter Chris Young. The tall righty had already surrendered eight homers in just six starts this year. Thanks to the likes of Phil Hughes, Yankees fans know all too well about what happens all too often when a homer-happy pitcher has to pitch in Yankee Stadium.
It only took two outs in the game for the first blast to strike, as Brian McCann sent a drive to right-center field that carried out for his fourth roundtripper of the season. The Royals struck right back against Ivan Nova, making his first start of 2016 in place of the injured CC Sabathia. Alex Gordon launched a bomb to center field eerily similar to his game-tying blast in the World Series against the Mets, tying the game at 1-1. Carlos Beltran led off the second inning by crushing a big fly of his own to put the Yankees back in front.
From then on, it was a vintage 2000s "Bronx Bombers" show. Brett Gardner began the third with his second tater in his past three plate appearances. Aaron Hicks immediately followed by smacking another Young gopher ball over the fence in right-center field. A few batters later, it was Beltran again up at bat to demolish a Young offering. The veteran tattooed his second four-bagger (yes we're diving deep into the "homer" synonym bank today) of the game and 398th in his career, putting him just two away from the 400-homer club.
That was all for Young, who gave up five circuit clouts to the Yanks in a single game, one shy of the franchise record for one pitcher. They say "solos can't beat you," but when one gives up five solo shots, it's going to be a pain to handle, as Ned Yost and the Royals found out.
Nova pitched about as well as fans could have hoped on a limited 75 pitch count. Joe Girardi actually let him go a little bit past that plateau but at 81 pitches, he decided to give Nova the hook with runners on and two outs in the fifth. Overall, the righty went 4 2/3 innings, giving up just the one run on six hits and a walk, striking out three batters. Girardi will certainly take an effort like that from his temporary fifth starter, who will be able to pitch longer next time out..
Phil Coke then made his first appearance in pinstripes since the 2009 World Series. He gave up a long drive from Eric Hosmer but thankfully it did not go quite far enough to reach the wall in left field. Gardner hauled it in for the out, ending the inning. Kirby Yates turned out to be the relief star of the game, covering 1 2/3 innings and allowing just one hit while striking out a pair of batters, preventing Girardi from needing to call upon Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller (though both warmed up at points). Yates earned his second win of the season for his efforts.
The Yankees tacked on another run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly from Hicks off Dillon Gee. Fans were thankful for that when Hosmer took Chasen Shreve's first pitch of the eighth to deep right field for an impressive dong of his own (now we're reaching). The lefty worked out of the inning, setting the stage for Aroldis Chapman's Yankees debut in the ninth. Chapman blew away the first two batters with strikeouts on mostly 99-101 mph fastballs. A Paulo Orlando double followed by an Alcides Escobar pushed a run across, but Chapman induced a weak grounder from Lorenzo Cain to end the game.
In total, the Yankees and Royals combined for seven wallops on the night in an exciting display of power. Masahiro Tanaka will try to keep the jub-jacks to a minimum tomorrow night while the Yankees lineup hopes the slammalammmadingdongs continue against Kris Medlen.