New York Yankees: Kansas City Royals

Royal blunder: Ball boy snags fair ball

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The most embarrassed person in Kauffman Stadium on Sunday -- next to the New York Yankees' hitters who went 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position -- had to be the poor right field ball boy.

Brian Roberts rifled a shot down the line in the fourth inning that the umpire signaled fair. But as Kansas City Royals right fielder Nori Aoki ran to the ball, the youngster calmly picked it up and handed it to someone in the stands.

It went for a ground-rule double as the youngster sheepishly sat down on his folding chair. But between innings, kindly Royals first base coach Rusty Kuntz went over to talk to the lad and give him a reassuring pat on the back. A couple of innings later, when somebody lashed a ball down the line that was clearly foul, the kid never budged.

Rapid Reaction: Royals 2, Yankees 1

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here's something the New York Yankees should have to write on the blackboard 500 times, or go to bed without supper: I must get better at situational hitting.

In a 2-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals that puts them in danger of losing the four-game series, the struggling Yanks were an appalling 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

Until Ichiro Suzuki's RBI groundout scored Yangervis Solarte from third base in the sixth, the Yankees had flailed away at a 1-for-11 clip with runners in scoring position.

Laboring from first pitch, James Shields was ripe for the picking on this sticky, cloudy afternoon. But the Yanks squandered opportunity after opportunity before tumbling back to .500 at 31-31.

What a waste: Futility came early and often. The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out in the second on two singles and a walk and Shields, to that point, had allowed five baserunners. But he struck out Kelly Johnson, retired Solarte on a nifty 3-1 force at home and then fanned Derek Jeter after starting him 0-2. So the Yanks got nothing but mounting frustration.

Jacoby Ellsbury doubled leading off the next inning but, continuing the theme, Carlos Beltran grounded out and Brian McCann and Solarte struck out, giving the Yanks six stranded runners in only three beat-your-head-against-the-wall innings.

Brian Roberts doubled with one out in the fourth but died at second. Brett Gardner tripled with one out in the seventh, then watched Jeter ground meekly to short and Ellsbury strike out.

Suzuki, carrying the tying run, remained at third base as closer Greg Holland struck out Gardner to end what has to be one of the most frustrating Yankee losses in a very long time.

Also wasted: A second straight fine outing by Hiroki Kuroda. The righthander allowed only two runs on five hits. The start before, he allowed only one run on two hits in 6 2-3 innings in a 5-2 loss to Oakland.

Coming up short: Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar robbed Jeter with a standout play in the first, diving to his right to stop a hot smash and, from his knees, throwing out his Yankee counterpart by half a step.

DJ-$10K: The Royals will honor the retiring Jeter prior to Monday's game and present him with a $10,000 check for Turn 2, his charity organization which promotes healthy lifestyles among youth. In his last appearance in Kauffman Stadium, Jeter has drawn appreciative applause from KC fans every time he's come to bat.

Heating up: Solarte is swinging the Yanks' only hot bat. After going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored on Saturday night, the rookie infielder went 2-for-4 with a double and another run scored.

Extremely red-faced: Next to the Yankees' hitters with runners in scoring position, the most embarrassed person in the stadium had to be the poor right field ball boy. Brian Roberts rifled a shot down the line in the fourth inning which the umpire signaled fair. But as right fielder Nori Aoki ran to the ball, the youngster calmly picked it up and handed it to someone in the stands. It went for a ground-rule double as the youngster sheepishly sat down on his folding chair. But between innings, kindly first base coach Rusty Kuntz went over to talk to the lad and give him a reassuring pat on the back. A couple of innings later when somebody lashed a ball down the line that was clearly foul, the kid never budged.

Monday: In the finale of the four-game set, the Yanks will send rookie lefthander Vidal Nuno (1-2) to the mound to face Jason Vargas (5-2).

Game 62: Yankees (31-30) at Royals (30-32)

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Here's the lineup the New York Yankees will start against the Kansas City Royals today in hopes of taking the third game of this four-game series.

Brett Gardner, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Carlos Beltran, DH
Brian McCann, C
Yangervis Solarte, 3B
Ichiro Suzuki, RF
Brian Roberts, 2B
Kelly Johnson, 1B

Hiroki Kuroda, P

NOTES: Skies were overcast and gray 90 minutes before the first pitch but forecasters insisted there would be no rain until late tonight. But the wet stuff could keep going right into Tuesday, which could cause big trouble for Monday night's finale of the series. The Yankees fly to Seattle for a night game on Tuesday with the Mariners, and the last thing they'd need would be a long delay on Monday night.

First-inning failure haunts Yankees

July, 9, 2013
NEW YORK -- The math just didn't add up right to Joe Girardi.

"Any time you put up four hits in an inning, you think you're going to get more than one run," Girardi said of the Yankees' first inning in its 3-1 loss to the Royals on Tuesday. "We put a bunch of singles, and [James Shields] gave up one hit the next six innings, and we didn't do much off him."

[+] EnlargeLyle Overbay
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesLyle Overbay struck out with the bases full in the first.
The Yankees missed on a golden opportunity to break open the game, scoring just one run in the first inning despite an offensive barrage. The Yankees took a 1-0 lead behind four hits and loaded the bases with one out but couldn't plate anything more in their third straight loss.

"We felt like we could get back into it," Yankees first baseman Lyle Overbay said. "He just located real well and didn't give up many mistakes. We couldn't get anything going."

The Yankees came out on fire against Shields with three straight hits to the start the game, including an RBI single by Robinson Cano to go up 1-0. The one run they plated in the first three batters matched the total they had produced in each of their previous two games.

After a strikeout by Travis Hafner, Zoilo Almonte laced a soft single to right. Ichiro Suzuki rounded third, but third base coach Rob Thomson held him, playing it safe instead of testing right fielder David Lough's arm. Lough has a respectable four outfield assists this season.

"I'm expecting to score any time there's a hit, but rounding third obviously I can't see the play," Suzuki said. "All I can do is go off what the coach tells me to do."

Girardi said he thought it would have been a "bang-bang" play but was OK with the decision.

"It's a tough call," Girardi said. "It's an instant call you have to make, and I didn't have a problem with him not sending him."

At a time when the Yankees are struggling offensively, and perhaps need to be more aggressive on the basepaths, the call to play it safe ended up backfiring as the Yankees couldn't get a clutch hit. With the bases loaded and one out, Overbay struck out and Cain made a fantastic running grab to rob Eduardo Nunez of a potentially bases-clearing hit.

"I think [we were] what anybody would be in that situation: disappointed," Suzuki said. "How you guys would feel would be the same feeling that we have, too."

After a blazing start, the Yankees' offense went missing the rest of the night. Over the final 23 outs, they managed just one hit and had a total of three baserunners over the final six innings. Given a chance to tie the game in the eighth inning, Cano struck out to end the frame with the Yanks down 3-1.

Failing to produce in that first inning limited the Yankees with one run for the third straight game.

"We've had opportunities, so it's not like we're not getting those opportunities. We're just not getting that key hit, and everybody is guilty of it," Overbay said. "It's a matter of kind [of] zoning in and making sure that we have good at-bats. If we have good at-bats and don't come through, so be it."

Rapid Reaction: Royals 5, Yankees 1

July, 8, 2013
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.

Monday's Yankees lineup

July, 8, 2013
NEW YORK -- Here's the Yankees' lineup for tonight's series opener against the Royals and RHP Jeremy Guthrie:

Brett Gardner CF
Zoilo Almonte LF
Robinson Cano 2B
Travis Hafner dh
Vernon Wells RF
Travis Ishikawa 1B
Luis Cruz SS
Alberto Gonzalez 3B
Austin Romine C

Phil Hughes RHP

Grand gaffe

May, 5, 2012
Ed Zurga/Getty ImagesCurtis Granderson was thrown out at third base in the sixth inning.

Along with Russell Martin, Curtis Granderson was one of the few Yankees who did anything productive at the plate Saturday night, doubling twice but failing to score both times. The second time was the fault of the heart of the lineup, which, after Granderson had opened the eighth with a double, went down meekly with Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano grounding out and Mark Teixeira striking out to leave him there.

But the first time was no one's fault but that of Granderson, who tried to advance to third on A-Rod's fly out to medium right. He was easily gunned down by Jeff Francoeur, who has a well-known rifle for an arm, and what might have been an important inning for the Yankees got snuffed out before it really began.

Joe Girardi attributed Granderson's baserunning gaffe to the desperation efforts of a struggling offense to make something happen.

"Sometimes when an offense is struggling, you try to get into a situation where you can score,'' Girardi said. "I told him, 'You've got a guy that's as good as anyone throwing out there in right field.' He got behind the ball. You can't be thrown out."

Like most of his teammates, Granderson scooted out of the postgame clubhouse to watch a pay-per-view showing of the Mayweather-Cotto fight and was not available for comment.

Kuroda: Another bad start means . . .

May, 5, 2012
. . . another bad start.

Nine of the 18 runs Hiroki Kuroda has allowed this season have come in the first inning, and on Saturday night he allowed two, one of them unearned after Derek Jeter's error, to set the tone for the Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Royals.

Kuroda wound up allowing just three runs (two earned), but lasted only 4 1/3 innings, and the with bullpen short and the offense struggling, it was too many runs and too few innings.

AP Photo/Orlin WagnerHiroki Kuroda's record dropped to 2-4 on the season.

"I really didn't have a good bullpen today,'' Kuroda said. "I'm usually able to make adjustments before the game, and I wasn't able to do that tonight.''

Kuroda was victimized by Billy Butler, who doubled in two runs in the first and singled in another in the fifth. But Kuroda's pitch count was way too high (91) and he was fooling no one, with just two strikeouts.

The Yankees' No. 2 starter is now 2-4 but with a respectable 3.75 ERA. More disturbingly, however, is the fact that he is 0-3 on the road, and in his career is now 5-12 with a 4.13 ERA vs. AL teams.

"I just thought he didn't locate his pitches well tonight,'' Joe Girardi said. "I didn't think his slider was quite as sharp.''

And asked if he thought Jeter's error changed the tenor of the game for Kuroda, the manager said, "You never know if it's a different game for a guy if you make the error or don’t make the error. The idea is you have to pick up your teammates, because sometimes those physical things are going to happen. You have to be able to make pitches and bounce back."

Which, clearly, Kuroda did not.

It was an especially frustrating outing since Kuroda's last start was a seven-inning gem against the Orioles. As a Yankee, Kuroda has yet to put together back-to-back good starts. "I just have to be consistent,'' he said. "I just have to convince myself that I can do this and be more consistent.''

Rapid Reaction: Royals 5, Yankees 1

May, 5, 2012

Recap | Box score | Photos

What it means: That the Yankees have now lost four of their last six to the Baltimore Orioles, who probably are not as good as their record, and the Kansas City Royals, who might be. Crisis time?

Termites in the bat rack?: Once again, little pop in the lineup as the Yankees are held hitless for 4 1/3 and manage just one run off the lowly Royals, who with tonight's 5-1 victory have taken two of the first three games of this series. Only Curtis Granderson (two doubles) and Russell Martin (home run, double) have anything to be proud of tonight.

Show me the way to go home: That could have been Granderson's walk-up music. Doubled twice, stranded twice. Once was his own fault (see below). The other? Blame Alex Rodriguez (groundout), Robinson Cano (groundout) and Mark Teixeira (strikeout), who wasted Grandy's leadoff double in the eighth.

Unlucky seven: Yanks stranded seven, went 0-for-7 w/RISP. Derek Jeter (0-for-4) was the chief culprit, grounding out with the bases loaded to end the fifth, and again to end the seventh with a runner on second.

Anti-Hiro: After throwing a gem at the Orioles in his last start, Hiroki Kuroda didn't have it tonight. With the help of an error by Jeter on the first play of the game, Kuroda allowed two first-inning runs and couldn't make it out of the fifth, allowing another run and leaving runners on first and third with one out for the bullpen to clean up, which Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley did. Kuroda's line: 4 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 2 K's.

Perfect Paulino: Felipe Paulino, who was just activated for this game after having missed the first 25 games of the season with a forearm strain, retired the first 11 Yankees he faced, six on strikeouts and five on infield grounders, before walking Alex Rodriguez. Paulino -- whose career record coming in was 10-31 with a 5.28 ERA -- pitched six shutout innings, allowed four hits and struck out six.

The Butler did it: Royals DH Billy Butler doubled in two runs in the first and singled in another in the fifth, all off Kuroda, a pitcher he had never faced before.

Grand Illusion: For some inexplicable reason, Granderson chose to advance to third on A-Rod's fly ball to right in the sixth, even though there were none out and Cano and Teixeira waiting to bat. Jeff Francoeur made the catch in medium right and easily gunned Grandy down at third, changing what could have been a big inning into a two-out, bases-empty flop. When Cano followed with a single, which would have scored Granderson, the gaffe only became more obvious.

French fried: Francoeur not only made the double play, he ended the sixth inning with a sliding catch on Teixeira's sinking liner to right, stranding Cano at first.

Russell on the muscle: The Yankees were off the board until Martin ripped one to the back row of the bleachers above the Royals bullpen in left, estimated at 426 feet, off reliever Jose Mijares with one out in the seventh.

What's coming: Assorted blog items from the postgame clubhouse, which is sure to empty quickly since many of the players had plans to watch the Mayweather-Cotto fight.

Tomorrow: The task of salvaging a split in the series falls upon Phil Hughes (1-4, 7.48), who has not been good and may be pitching for his spot in the rotation as Andy Pettitte's return draws nearer. Hughes draws RHP Luke Hochevar
(2-2, 7.36) in the series finale, first pitch at 2:10 p.m.

W2W4: Yankees at Royals (May 5)

May, 5, 2012
Hiroki Kuroda Matchups to Watch
Kuroda has had his way with the American League’s right-handed hitters, holding them to 8-for-58 with 14 strikeouts so far this season.

Kuroda was helped that he allowed three hard-hit line drives to right-handed hitters in his last start, but all were turned into outs.

Kuroda’s money pitch against right-handed hitters has been his slider, which he throws to the outer-third nearly 80 percent of the time (the major league average for a righty to a righty is about 53 percent).

That plays into what one of the best righties on the Royals –- Billy Butler -– has done well this season.

Butler has eight hits against sliders from right-handed pitchers this season (half of them have come on pitches to the outer-third or further away), one shy of the major league lead.

Felipe Paulino Matchups to Watch
Though the radar gun readings in Kansas City have registered a bit higher than they do in Royals road games, Paulino’s 95 mile-per-hour fastball has some legitimacy (he averaged the same fastball velocity in home and road games last season).

But this is not an overpowering 95-mile-per-hour pitch. Opponents are hitting .339 in at-bats ending in a Paulino fastball since 2009.

When you factor in the run value of the hits that Paulino allows with the pitch, his 95-mile-per-hour fastball ranks third-worst among those who thrown at least 500 pitches at that speed since 2009.

As we’ve noted before in this space, the Yankees hitter who tends to perform best against that pitch speed from a right-handed pitcher is Mark Teixeira, who also homered last night.

Teixeira has seven home runs against 95-plus pitches since 2009, one shy of the major league lead, held by Dan Uggla and David Ortiz.

Robinson Cano Watch
Cano has hit 14 fly balls that have stayed in the ballpark since his last home run, a streak that is unusual for him. Last season, Cano averaged a home run every seven fly balls.

Right-handed pitchers have been very cognizant of Cano’s strengths, throwing 60 percent of their pitches to him to the outer-third of the plate or further away. Cano had seven homers against those pitches last season, but has none this season.

Wade in a New Role
With the injury to Mariano Rivera, not only will there be increased responsibility for David Robertson and Rafael Soriano, but Cory Wade wil likely play a bigger role as well.

Wade hasn’t pitched in the first two games of this series, but he’s been very effective this season, with 15 strikeouts and just one unintentional walk in 12 1/3 innings.

It will be interesting to see Joe Girardi’s willingness to use Wade in big spots against left-handed hitters. Wade has retired the last eight lefties he’s faced and has whiffed seven of the 21 left-handed swingers he’s faced this season.

W2W4: Yankees at Royals (Tuesday)

August, 16, 2011

Left: The primary pitch location for Ivan Nova's offspeed pitches to LHB in his first 14 appearances.
Right: The primary pitch location for Nova's offspeed pitches to LHB in his last six appearances

Ivan Nova What2Watch4
Nova is 7-0 with a 3.10 ERA in his last eight starts and the Yankees have won all eight of those games. As was pointed out inthe last edition of Yankeemetrics, Nova is the first Yankees rookie starter to win seven straight decisions since Tom Morgan in 1951. Via Elias: He's trying to become the first to win eight or more in a row, all as a starter for the Yankees, since Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford in 1950.

Nova induced a season-high 17 ground balls, 14 of which were turned into outs in his start on Wednesday against the Angels.

One of the biggest keys to Nova’s turnaround: Over his last six starts, left-handed hitters are 9-for-61 with one extra-base hit against him.

Nova has worked a slider into his offspeed repertoire with effectiveness, netting six outs on 10 pitches thrown to lefties over his last two starts.

“I think I just throw it with more confidence,” Nova told Ian Begley on Sunday. “When I was in the minors, it was the right time to practice it. I wasn't sent down because I was pitching bad, I got sent down because they needed a roster spot. So why not spend that time working on your technique? (I worked on) pitching inside, working on my slider. And now you see how it is.”

The offspeed pitches have been significantly better for Nova lately, as both the chart on the right and the heat map at the top of this article indicate.

Danny Duffy What2Watch4
This will be the first time the Yankees see Duffy, a left-hander, whose fastball averages around 93-miles-per-hour and has reached as high as 98 miles-per-hour.

The Elias Sports Bureau reports that the Yankees are 13-4 this season in games in which the opposing team uses a starting pitcher that had never before faced the Yankees.

The Yankees have won their last eight games of that type, including three in the past week (in games started by the Angels’ Garrett Richards and Tyler Chatwood, and the Royals’ Felipe Paulino). Their last loss in a game like that was to Ubaldo Jimenez and the Rockies on June 24.

Duffy has struggled against right-handed hitters this season, which plays right into Derek Jeter’s hands. Jeter is now hitting .369 against lefties this season, second in the majors to Dustin Pedroia’s .403.

In his last four starts, Duffy has walked 12 in 20 2/3 innings.

Curtis Granderson What2Watch4
Granderson is 1-for-his-last 11 against left-handed pitching, but enters with five home runs in his last six games overall. All five have come against right-handers. He’s homerless in his last 21 at-bats against left-handed pitching. He’s averaged a home run every 12.6 at-bats against southpaws this season.

Granderson’s next hit against a lefty would give him 38, matching the most he’s ever had in a season against left-handed pitching (he had 38 in 2008).

Statistical Domination2Watch4
The Yankees are 100-39 (.719 winning percentage) against the Royals since the start of the 1995 season. That’s their best record against an AL team by a considerable margin (they have a .658 winning percentage against the Orioles). In that span, they’ve outhomered the Royals 185-89 and outwalked them 621-392.

W2W4: Yankees at Royals (Monday)

August, 15, 2011

Getty Images/Al Bello
Facing a right-handed pitcher who throws 95 miles-per-hour could be the one thing that slows Curtis Granderson down. The Royals will send such a pitcher to the mound on Monday

A.J. Burnett What2Watch4
Perhaps the Royals will be the cure for what has ailed Burnett, who is winless in 13 starts as a Yankee in August.

In four starts 26 1/3 innings against the Royals as a Yankee, Burnett has allowed just four runs (three earned) and 12 hits. He’s faced 100 batters and yielded just two extra-base hits. He allowed only one hit against them over seven innings in a 4-3 loss on May 11.

Burnett has had a good curveball going for him in those games, using it to finish off left-handed hitters. He’s gotten lefties out 21 times with his curveball (14 by strikeout) without yielding a base hit with one. He should see a bunch of lefties in the Royals lineup on Monday.

It was the hook the was most costly to Burnett in his last start, though it was a right-handed hitter who got the key hit- Angels catcher Jeff Mathis netting a two-run double against it.

Jorge Posada What2Watch4
Posada will be facing the team that he hits the hardest. Posada is a .325 career hitter against the Royals, the only AL team against which he has a .300 batting average or higher. His OPS against them: .999

Posada has not hit well on the road all season though, 0-for-16 against left-handed pitching and a .198/.268/.315 slashline split (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) vs right-handers.
The root of Posada’s issues against right-hander is an inordinately high strikeout rate. Posada has struck out 13 times in 134 plate appearances against a right-handed pitcher at home, but 31 times in 123 plate appearances on the road.

Posada is much more apt to chase a pitch with two strikes on the road than he is at home. Though he’s actually seeing about the same rate of pitches out of strike zone regardless of location, he’s seeing significantly more offspeed pitches (changeups, curves and sliders). And he’s flailing at them, as the chart on the right shows.

Felipe Paulino What2Watch4
Paulino, the Royals starter, is 7-29 with a 5.29 ERA, but within that is a pitcher who is headed in the right direction.

Paulino, a righty, has one win in 12 starts this season, but has a 3.65 ERA as a starting pitcher, with 68 strikeouts and 23 strikeouts in 74 innings.

In eight of 12 starts this season, the Royals have scored three runs or fewer.

The Yankees have never faced Paulino, whose fastball averages 95-miles-per-hour. They've struggled against pitches of 95+ from right-handers this season, hitting .193 against them, 33 points below major-league average according to our pitch performance data.

Curtis Granderson is the Yankee who has had the most issues. He's 1-for-18 against pitches from right-handers of 95-miles-per-hour or faster in 2011. Mark Teixeira has three home runs against such pitches this season, which was tied with Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko and Albert Pujols for most in the majors entering Sunday.

Alex Gordon & Eric Hosmer What2Watch4
Gordon has finally broken through and become the star player that he was expected to be when he was recalled in 2007.

The Yankees have done a nice job of shutting Gordon down over the last three seasons. He’s just 6-for-47 against them since 2009, including 1-for-10 with four strikeouts earlier this season.

Hosmer hit the Yankees very well in his first trip to Yankee Stadium, going 4-for-12 with two home runs. His first career home run came against Burnett on a day in which he drove in the winning run with an 11th-inning sacrifice fly.

Rapid Reaction: Yankees 3, Royals 1

May, 10, 2011

Recap | Box score | Photos

WHAT IT MEANS: The Yankees improve to 20-13 on the season, and remain in first place in the American League East, a half-game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, who are still in action in Cleveland tonight. The Yanks open a six-game homestand with a win, and have now won three of their past four after dropping three in a row in Detroit last week.

THE SKINNY: The Yankees got on the board first, in the bottom of the third inning -- after Kyle Davies had retired the first eight Yankee batters in a row, Brett Gardner hit a two-out triple into the right-center gap, and Derek Jeter drove him home with a hard single up the middle. But the Royals answered in the very next frame -- former Yankee Melky Cabrera drilled a Freddy Garcia 2-0 fastball into Monument Park to tie the game.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees loaded the bases with two outs -- Gardner walked, Jeter singled and Mark Teixeira was hit by a pitch. Then Alex Rodriguez delivered with a clutch single past the diving Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar, which plated two runs and gave the Yanks a 3-1 lead.

Those were the final runs of the ballgame.

QUALITY START: Garcia gave the Yankees another good outing on the mound. The 34-year-old right-hander went six-plus, giving up just one run on six hits. Garcia was lifted after facing two batters in the seventh -- Jeff Francoeur singled, followed by an Eric Hosmer walk. David Robertson came in, and eventually faced the bases loaded with one out. But Robertson struck out Escobar and Chris Getz to work out of trouble.

ROLE REVERSAL? With the Yankees leading 3-1 heading into the eighth inning, Joe Girardi called upon Joba Chamberlain, instead of Rafael Soriano. The Yankees were off on Monday, so the reason could not have been that Soriano was overworked. We'll get Girardi's explanation after the game.

At any rate, Chamberlain was outstanding, needing just nine pitches to get three outs. He K'd both Cabrera and Alex Gordon -- Gordon looked at three straight fastball strikes, the last of which hit 98 miles per hour on the radar gun.

Mariano Rivera pitched a scoreless ninth, giving up only a leadoff single to Francoeur, to notch his 13th save of the season.

JETER METER: The Yankees' captain went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and is now 38 hits away from the historic 3,000 mark. Jeter now has eight hits in his past three games.

BREAKTHROUGH? Rodriguez entered today's game just 9-for-53 with only three RBIs in the past 14 games. But his two-run single in the fifth ended up being the game-winning hit. A-Rod finished 1-for-4 on the night.

POOR PERFORMANCES: Jorge Posada, who came in batting just .152 on the season, had another tough night, going 0-for-3, with a couple of flyouts and a strikeout. Curtis Granderson, who came in batting .283 and tied for the major league lead in home runs with the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano at 11, was 0-for-4 and struck out swinging three times.

GLOVE WORK: Nick Swisher made a diving catch in right field in the top of the fifth, with runners on first and second and two outs, and the game still tied at 1. If that ball gets past Swisher, at least one run scores on that play.

NICE TOUCH: The Bleacher Creatures extended a special tribute to Cabrera, who was making his first trip back to Yankee Stadium since he was traded following the 2009 season. The fans treated him to a "roll call" cheer, usually reserved for the home team, in the bottom of the first inning. Cabrera finished the night 1-for-4, driving in the Royals' lone run with that solo shot in the fourth, his fourth home run of the season.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Yankees and Royals will do it again on Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m. A.J. Burnett (4-2, 3.72) will pitch for the Yankees; Vin Mazzaro will pitch for the Royals, his first major-league start of the season. Mazzaro will be called up from Triple-A Omaha to replace the injured Bruce Chen.

Looking ahead to this weekend's series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx, the Yankees will go with Bartolo Colon, CC Sabathia and Garcia. The Red Sox will counter with their top three starters: Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and Jon Lester.
The Yankees will face right-handed pitcher Vin Mazzaro, not left-hander Bruce Chen, on Wednesday night in the Bronx.

The Royals announced before Tuesday night's game that Chen will be placed on the 15-day disabled list before Wednesday's game, retroactive to May 6, with a left lat strain. Mazzaro will be called up from Triple-A Omaha.

The 24-year-old Mazzaro, from Hackensack, N.J., has made 41 major league appearances, 35 of them starts, in 2009 and 2010 with the Oakland A's. He is 10-17 with a 4.72 ERA. He was acquired by the Royals in November along with pitcher Justin Marks, in exchange for outfielder David DeJesus. Mazzaro was 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA in five starts for Omaha this season.

Chen is 4-1 with a 3.59 ERA in seven starts this season for the Royals.

Melky comes back home to the Bronx

May, 10, 2011
Melky Cabrera is back at Yankee Stadium this week for the first time since he was traded to the Atlanta Braves following the 2009 season.

Cabrera is now the starting center fielder for the Kansas City Royals, and is hitting .283 on the season with three home runs and 21 RBIs.

"I think he'll get a very good reaction [from the fans]," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Tuesday's series opener. "Melky brought a lot of energy to our club. He was well-liked."

Cabrera came up with the Yankees, and played four full seasons with the club from 2006 through 2009. In his final season in pinstripes, he helped the Yankees win the World Series, batting .274 with 13 homers and 68 RBIs in 154 games played.

Cabrera was dealt in Dec. 2009 along with Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino for starting pitcher Javier Vazquez and reliever Boone Logan.



Masahiro Tanaka
13 2.77 141 136
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146