Even with a “B” lineup on the field, the Yankees crushed the Kansas City Royals with ease in Sunday’s series finale at Kauffman Stadium.
With Clint Frazier and Gary Sánchez stashed on the bench, the Yankees still showed off plenty of power capability. Tyler Austin led the charge, smacking his 7th and 8th homers of the season off Royals’ starter Eric Skoglund. Austin leads all MLB rookies in home runs, which is quite impressive for a player who was not even supposed to make the Opening Day roster. Austin drove in four runs total on the day.
The ninth inning also turned into a mini-Home Run Derby, where Miguel Andújar hit an impressive home run to the opposite field. Austin Romine, who somehow is hitting .326 after today’s game, then followed with an absolute bomb to center field. Sánchez’s absence was never felt as power was abundant.
Aaron Hicks tripled in a run in the fifth, and Brett Gardner drove in a run with an infield single in the eighth. Ronald Torreyes scored in the eighth also on a wild pitch.
Sonny Gray was the real star of Sunday’s game. The righty dominated the Royals, throwing eight stellar innings of one-run ball. He scattered four hits, walked one batter and struck out five. Gray did not allow a hit until the fifth inning, The Royals scored their one run in the eighth when Hunter Dozier singled, moved to second on an Alex Gordon groundout and then scored on a Jon Jay single.
“I thought his stuff was great and the slider was a really good pitch for him,” Aaron Boone said. “When he’s ahead [in the count], he has the weapons to put people away. That was clear today. The stuff is elite. That’s why we were so optimistic about him even when he was going through some struggles.”
A.J. Cole came in to pitch the ninth inning, getting a fly out and two strikeouts.
Neither Greg Bird nor Billy McKinney played for any minor league affiliates today. Bird is reportedly headed to Triple-A to join the RailRiders for their series opener in Pawtucket on Monday. No word on McKinney, who could remain in Trenton or move to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre with Bird.
Masahiro Tanaka opens up the Yankees’ next series in Texas, where he will face Bartolo Colón and the Rangers.