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Monday, July 8, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Royals 5, Yankees 1

By Wallace Matthews

NEW YORK -- Too bad the rain stopped. As soon as the brief summer storm ran out of steam, so did the chances of the New York Yankees, who never seemed to get started against a pitcher, and a team, they usually handle easily. They lost the first of a four-game series to the Kansas City Royals 5-1 and wasted what was shaping up as a decent outing for Phil Hughes.

What it means: The same as it has meant on so many nights this season: The Yankees can't hit. No matter how many different ways you come up to say it, the result is the same.

Royal flush: That's what the Yankees would like to do to this one, a lifeless affair that seemed over as soon as Kansas City, whom the Yankees swept in a three-game series at Kauffman Stadium in May, put two runs up on the board in the second inning. The Yankees punchless lineup never got a runner past first base until the seventh inning. But they saved their worst for last, when they loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the ninth -- only to see Eduardo Nunez, Brett Gardner and Zoilo Almonte strike out to end the game.

No offense: But the Yankees allowed Jeremy Guthrie, who had surrendered 13 earned runs in his previous 15 innings, to work into the seventh inning with just three hits allowed, two by Vernon Wells, until Lyle Overbay homered with two out in the seventh.

The Butler did it: Royals DH Billy Butler, who became a cause celebre in Kansas City when Robinson Cano left him off the 2012 AL Home Run Derby team during the All-Star break in Kansas City, made his case to be included this year with a home run off Phil Hughes leading off the second inning to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for Butler's case, it was only his seventh of the season. It was the 15th allowed this season by Hughes, however.

Double play: Following Butler's homer, the Royals got second-inning doubles by Mike Moustakas and David Lough, both opposite-field jobs just inside the left-field line, to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

Sunstorm: A bizarre rainstorm, with the sun still shining brightly overhead, began falling on the Bronx in the third inning, and, by the bottom of the fourth, had gained enough intensity to cause the umpires to order the field covered at 8:10. The crowd was kept entertained by Eric Clapton's "Let it Rain," Gene Kelly's rendition of "Singin' in the Rain" and the sight of the stadium grounds crew wrestling with a billowing tarp.

An hour to kill: The rain delay lasted 59 minutes. Play resumed at 9:09 p.m. but without Hughes, who went four innings, allowed two runs on four hits, including a home run. Adam Warren replaced him in the top of the fifth.

Back-breaker: The Royals added a run in the seventh off Warren on a bloop single to short right by Moustakas, followed by a double by Johnny Giavotella, who went opposite field to the right-field corner and easily scored Moustakas from first.

Dogpile: The Royals tacked on two more runs in the ninth off Preston Claiborne on an RBI double by Alex Gordon over Almonte's head into left, followed by an RBI triple into the left-field gap by Alcides Escobar.

Lyle Overfence: The Yankees finally got on the board in the seventh when Joe Girardi sent Overbay to hit for Travis Ishikawa, who had struck out in his two at-bats. Overbay belted a 2-1 changeup from Guthrie into the right-field seats for his 10th homer of the season. The Yankees then got men on first and third after singles by Luis Cruz and Ichiro Suzuki, who pinch hit for Alberto Gonzalez, but Nunez, batting for Austin Romine, then struck out to kill the rally.

What's next: Game 2 of four between the Yankees and the Royals -- CC Sabathia (9-6, 4.06 ERA) vs. right-hander James Shields (3-6, 3.23 ERA). First pitch at 7:05 p.m.