To be perfectly fair, neither the Royals nor the Yankees are on the plus side of this season. Plus, the Royals are 7 games behind the White Sox (and yes, it’s not a decade ago), and the Yankees 6 games behind Baltimore and Boston. It’s not like either team has had a great April, but the Royals are clinging to last October the way the Yankee fans cling to the 1990s and even 2009.
So for game 2 of this week’s series, the Yankees looked to Masahiro Tanaka to set the course for the Yankees tonight. And honestly, despite the outcome, tonight wasn’t one of Tanaka’s best outings. In 7 innings, he threw just 79 pitches, so he was efficient, but he still gave up 7 hits and 6 runs, striking out just 4 Kansas City batters. In the 2nd, the lead-off batter hit a double and then scored as part of a 2-out 2-run home run. A 1-out solo home run added another run to the Royals’ total. And then in the 5th, with runners in scoring position and 1 out, another home run (by the same hitter in the 3rd) got a 3-run home run to double the Royals’ score.
In the mean time, the Yankees just burned through the Royals’ pitching staff, facing 6 different batters over the evening. In the 1st, with 1 out and bases loaded, Dustin Ackley’s sacrifice fly got one run in to start the Yankees’ scoring. Gregorius led-off the 2nd inning with a double and then scored on Chase Headley’s single to tie up the score at that point. Beltran’s lead-off double and Ackley’s walk was enough to push the Royals’ starter out of the game in the 3rd inning. A wild pitch by the new pitcher moved the runners up before he loaded the bases with a walk to Hicks. It would be Didi Gregorius’ monster double that allowed all 3 to score and shove the Yankees into the lead again.
The Royals’ staff kept the Yankees’ bats a little quieter until the 7th inning. McCann hit a 1-out single, moved to 2nd on a balk, and then scored on Ackley’s 2-out single. Ackley ended up at 2nd on the wide throw home, which allowed him to score on Aaron Hicks’ double.
At this point, the Yankees had a nice lead, and thus prepared for their back-end bullpen power, starting with Andrew Miller in the 8th. Miller went into tonight with a 0.00 ERA, but that was blown by a lead-off solo home run (same guy who hit 2 before, by the way) to tie up the game. Despite the blown save, Miller got his 3 outs though, with 3 great strikeouts.
So, the Yankees came back in the bottom of the 8th, when Gamel reached on a fielding error and then scored on Brett Gardner’s double (Gamel’s first run scored in the MLB). Then with Castro on base with a hit by pitch, Brian McCann’s double scored both Gardner and Castro to give the Yankees a 3-run lead over the Royals.
Of course, this meant the first save opportunity for Aroldis Chapman in the 9th inning. Chapman’s fastballs were on fire tonight (topping at 102 mph) and getting batters to swing at junk. He did give up a 2-out walk, who moved to 2nd on defensive indifference and then to 3rd on a wild pitch, but a 101 mph fast ball was hit into a pop up to Castro who ended the inning and the game, giving Chapman his first save as a Yankee.
Final score 10-7
Injury update: Mark Teixeira is the latest Yankee plagued with the injury bug. Teixeira sat out tonight and is expected to be out tomorrow’s game as well due to neck spasms. He joins teammates Ellsbury and Rodriguez on the bench waiting for their body to catch up to their mind on readiness. Ellsbury is running some, but the test for getting back in the game will be when he can sprint successfully without pain in his hip. Rodriguez is thought to be out a total of 15 days, and we’re about halfway through this estimated time slot. Castro, however, was back and contributing despite whatever slight twinge he might have felt in his own oblique.
I won’t make the obvious case about the only major difference between the 3 veterans on the bench and the one who went 1-for-3, with 2 runs scored tonight. But in professional sports (as in most life instances, it seems), a 20-something body does bounce back faster than a 30-something one. Of course, it’s a lot easier to believe you’re still pretty invincible when you’re 20-something. By 30-something, your moments of enlightenment remind you that it’s okay to take a little longer, to linger in bed more in the morning, to celebrate getting to bed before 10:00 pm, to laugh at creaking joints when you get up, to recognize that those dessert calories just go directly to your thighs now and never leaves, and to be very comfortable that you’re a mature grown-up that still giggles like a schoolgirl at stupid jokes and screams at the television during a sports game like they can hear you.
Celebrate who you are, at any age. Just know that it may take a little longer to reach the cake the older you get. But still, there’s cake. So we’re good.