What a dismal day of baseball. The Yankees dropped the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Royals, and while they won the second game, it was like pulling teeth. Shouldn’t have to scratch and claw against arguably the worst team in baseball. Good grief. A win is a win though. Enjoy it. The final score was 5-4. This is the second game of a doubleheader, so let’s recap with bullet points:
- An Early Lead: The Yankees put two runs on the board right in the first inning Saturday night. A Brett Gardner infield single and a Giancarlo Stanton rocket ground ball single set Miguel Andujar up for the run-scoring infield single and a 1-0 lead. Neil Walker got another run home with a sac fly, which seems to be the only way the Yankees score these days. Shane Robinson added a solo homer in the fourth (yes, really) to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Sac flies and Shane Robinson dingers. That’s where the Yankees are at right now.
- CC Labors: The Royals are the worst offensive team in baseball by almost any measure, and neither starting pitcher Saturday was able to complete five innings. Brutal. CC Sabathia, who was making his first start in 13 days, danced in and out of danger all night. Then it caught up to him in the fifth. Sabathia walked the generally un-walk-able Salavador Perez to load the bases, then he walked Lucas Duda to force in a run. It was Duda’s second walk against a lefty pitcher this year. Sabathia’s final line: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K on 79 pitches.
- A Blown Lead: The 3-2 lead disappeared in the sixth inning. Jonathan Holder put two men on base and Chad Green gave up the game-tying single to Rosell Herrera. Green’s given up some dingers lately, but this was a weak five-hop grounder against the shift. Herrera took a defensive little swing and found a hole. It happens. In the seventh, new pickup Zach Britton let the Royals take a 4-3 lead when he walked the No. 8 hitter (Alcides Escobar) and No. 9 hitter (Drew Butera) on eight total pitches to force in a run. Escobar and Butera might be the two worst hitters in baseball, and Britton walked them on eight pitches. Turrible.
- Too Many Sac Flies: The eighth inning rally started with something that has been hard to come by lately: A home run. Greg Bird took lefty Brian Flynn into the bullpen for a game-tying solo homer. The Yankees now have five homers in eight games since the All-Star break. After the homer, the Yankees loaded the bases on a double (Walker), a sac bunt turned infield single (Austin Romine), and a walk (Gleyber Torres). Aaron Hicks gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead with another sac fly. The so-called Bronx Bombers lead baseball with 40 sac flies this season and with eight since the All-Star break. I’ll take it, but sooner the Yankees stop relying on making outs to score runs, the better.
- Leftovers: Neil Walker! Never doubted the guy. He went 2-for-3 with a double in this game and 5-for-7 in the doubleheader overall. Walker is 17-for-41 (.415) in his last 13 games and his batting line went from .213/.295/.300 (63 wRC+) to .229/.306/.318 (71 wRC+) on Saturday … Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman each pitched around a leadoff single in their scoreless innings … every starter had a hit except Kyle Higashioka. Brett Gardner (single, two walks), Didi Gregorius (single, walk), and Walker (single, double) each reached multiple times.
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, and our Bullpen Workload page. The Yankees and Royals will wrap up this four-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1:05pm ET start. J.A Happ will make his Yankees debut in that one. Righty Burch Smith will be on the bump for Kansas City.