After two easy wins to start off the series, the Royals returned the favor by beating the Yankees 5-1. Eh, I’ll still take a series win. The Yankees are still in the first place with a 24-14 record with a 1.5-game lead over the Orioles.
The scoring started for the Royals in the second inning. With one out and two runners on base, Jordan Montgomery generated a grounder to third. Timing-wise, it should have been an easy double play. However, Starlin Castro’s throw to Chris Carter bounced in front of the first baseman and Carter couldn’t handle it. Instead of ending the inning, the Royals followed it up by taking a 1-0 lead with a Whit Merrifield RBI single. Drew Butera followed it up with another RBI single to make it 2-0 Kansas City.
The Royals did more damage in the fifth. Merrifield reached with a bunt single and two hitters later, Montgomery walked Alcides Escobar to put two runners on base. Escobar almost never walks (that was his fifth of the season) and Montgomery paid for it against Mike Moustakas. The Royals’ Moose hit a three-run home run to give Kansas City a 5-0 lead. Welp. Montgomery finished the frame but that was the last one for him tonight.
It was yet another ho-hum start for Jordan Montgomery (5 IP, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K). There’s a lot to like about him – a young, tall lefty who can throw multiple pitches in any count – but he won’t get to the next level if he doesn’t cut down on walks (4.12 BB/9 IP after tonight). After tonight, Montgomery has a 4.81 ERA/3.93 FIP. Struggles like this is expected of a rookie starter. We’ll see how he learns from his mistakes though.
Shutdown by the Duffman
Simply said, Danny Duffy was overpowering. Dude was a good power pitcher in 2016, striking out 9.42 hitters per 9 IP, but injuries and fatigue made it a bit of an enigmatic season. He’s one of those guys that if he can stay healthy for a full season, he’d be considered one of the top starters of the league. Well, he looked like one tonight against the Yankees.
In 7 innings, Duffy struck out 10 Yankees hitters while allowing only 2 hits. I don’t have the data handy for the best SP performance against the Yankees lineup this year but this has got to be one of the tops. Duffy’s killer pitch was his slider, which he got a whopping 13 whiffs per Brooks Baseball. He generated three whiffs total on other pitches so yeah, that slider really set the tone for his dominance tonight.
The Yankee bats did try to rally though. Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a bunt base hit to lead off the fourth and two batters later, Matt Holliday walked to put the runner on scoring position. However, Castro struck out swinging and Aaron Judge flew out to end that threat quite quickly. They had another good chance in the 5th. Duffy started the inning by allowing a base hit to Chase Headley and walking Didi Gregorius. However, Aaron Hicks swung at the first pitch slider to ground into the double play to kill the tension almost immediately. Yeesh. One of those nights.
Chad Green impressed again in his long relief appearance. He came in relief after Montgomery’s 5 IP outing and struck out 6 in three scoreless innings. Not bad. He now has 11 strikeouts and 1 walk in 7.2 IP so far in the MLB with a 0.00 ERA. Green is pitching like a guy who wants a bigger role and I wonder what the management thinks of it. He did have a 4.73 ERA in the Triple-A before getting called up so there’s also that to take into the factor but he’s also seen flashes of success in his ML stint last year. He’s an interesting case. I personally think he should get a shot at the rotation at some point but can’t say when would be a good time.
The Yankees were 2-for-14 in RISP tonight. Not great. A pair of outfielders – Aaron Judge and Jacoby Ellsbury – had a 2-for-4 night so that’s a silver lining. Gregorius, who drove in the sole Yankee run, was 1-for-3 with a walk. If you haven’t noticed, Didi is having a good season, hitting .320/.358/.413 after tonight.
Box score, standings, WPA graph
The Yankees start a three-game series at the Trop tomorrow. Luis Severino will be up against Erasmo Ramirez.