Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Neck stiffness resurfaces for slumping Teixeira

While Alex Rodriguez is on the road back to good health and expected to rejoin the Yankees for Thursday’s late-afternoon series finale against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, there are other physical concerns disrupting the club.

Rodriguez homered in two at-bats for Double A Trenton Wednesday night after going 2-for-4 with a run batted in Tuesday night on an injury-rehabilitation assignment. It is too bad A-Rod did not take to playing first base a couple of years ago because the Yankees may have a real need there.

Mark Teixeira was out of the lineup Wednesday night because of neck stiffness, the same ailment that forced him to miss two home games earlier this month against the Royals. It has been a rough month for Teixeira, who is batting .164 with three doubles and two RBI in May that has driven his season batting average down to .195. Tex was 4-for-25 (.160) on the recent trip to Phoenix and Oakland. He went 16 games without an RBI from May 3-21, the longest stretch of his career. He was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in Tuesday night’s 6-0 victory over the Blue Jays. Teixeira has not homered since April 13, another career-worst stretch of 124 at-bats.

Dustin Ackley was at first base batting sixth in the order Wednesday night. Manager Joe Girardi conceded he does not have that many options at that position. He said he could use backup catcher Austin Romine at first base or use Romine behind the plate and have regular catcher Brian McCann at first. Romine was taking grounders at first base during batting practice.

Gary Sanchez, the catcher Romine beat out in spring training for the role of McCann’s caddy, is also hurt. Playing at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Sanchez took a foul ball off his right hand Tuesday night and sustained a bone fracture in this thumb that placed him on the disabled list.

A former Yankees catcher was a primary reason the Yankees’ six-game winning streak came to an end. Russell Martin, who entered the game without a home run and only one extra-base hit in 122 at bats, cranked two home runs to drive in three runs for Toronto in its 8-4 victory that dropped the Yankees back below .500(22-23).

The Yanks got a pair of home runs on back-to-back solos by Chase Headley (No. 3) and Didi Gregorius (No. 4) in the seventh but it was too little too late. For the seventh straight game, the Yankees’ starter pitched six innings or more. Ivan Nova (2-2) lasted two outs in the seventh before he hit Edwin Encarnacion with a pitch and was replaced by Chase Shreve, who gave up a two-run homer to Patrick Saunders.

The Blue Jays were not finished with Shreve. Justin Smoak doubled and Martin followed with his second homer of the game. His first came leading off the sixth against Nova, who was charged with four earned runs in 6 2/3 innings. A couple of two-out infield singles in the fourth hurt Nova, who then yielded a bases-clearing double by Ryan Goins.

Martin’s sixth-inning homer came in his 125th at-bat, the second longest drought at the start of a season in his career. Martin did not hit a home run in 2009 until his 218th at-bat for the Dodgers. Martin’s bid for a three-homer game came in the ninth but center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury caught his drive on the warning track.

Toronto starter Marco Estrada earned his first victory in eight starts since April 10. The righthander, who had received scant run support prior to Wednesday night, loaded the bases with none out in the second on singles by Headley and Gregorius and a four-pitch walk to Aaron Hicks but gave up only one run on an infield out. Gregorius had three hits, including a singe off lefthander Chad Girodo, which raised his team-leading batting average against southpaws to .368 in 38 at-bats.

Rodriguez has played only two games at first base, both in 2015, in his career and was not a bit comfortable on that side of the infield as he has been over the years as a shortstop turned third baseman. A-Rod made one error in his 9 2/3 innings as a first baseman.
The Yankees are hopeful Teixeira’s health issues are short-term. If the problem should linger, they would have to weigh all options. After a hot start at SWB, Nick Swisher has cooled off to a .260 batting average with four home runs and 13 RBI. He has been platooned there with Chris Parmelee, who is batting .244 with six homers and 18 RBI.

Yanks escape last place with 4th straight victory

Goodbye, last place. For the first time in nearly a month, the Yankees are no longer at the bottom of the pack in the American League East. Their 5-1 victory Saturday at Oakland paired with Toronto’s 5-3 loss at Minneapolis pushed the Yankees over the Blue Jays in the standings.

The Yankees’ fourth straight victory, their longest winning streak of the year, was their third in a row over the Athletics in paying the A’s back for their sweep of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium last month. The Yankees can go one better with another victory Sunday in the series and trip finale.

It has been a pleasant trek for the Yanks, who stumbled at the beginning of it with two losses in Phoenix, but they have come back on the strength of their starting pitching. Saturday marked the fourth straight game in which a Yankees starter allowed only one run in six or more innings of work.

Masahiro Tanaka went seven innings Saturday, topping the six-inning efforts of predecessors CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi. The weak link in the rotation has been Michael Pineda, who will try to turn his fortunes around Sunday.

Tanaka allowed one run on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia in the fifth. Two innings earlier facing Valencia with the bases full and one out, Tanaka struck him out looking and ended the threat by getting Khris Davis on a ground ball to third base. Tanaka walked two batters and struck out four in ending a five-start streak of no-decisions. For the season, Tanaka is 2-0 with seven no-decisions and a 3.24 ERA.

This was Tanaka’s third career start against the A’s. He is 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. Saturday’s victory was his first start at Oakland and continued his success on the road where he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts this season. For his career, Tanaka is 13-6 with a 3.04 ERA in games away from Yankee Stadium.

A four-run fourth inning off Athletics starter Sean Manaea (1-2, 7.62 ERA) gave Tanaka all the offensive support he would require and once again allowed Joe Girardi in his 1,500th major league game as a manager to rest his three power relievers, although Aroldis Chapman did warm up in the ninth when the A’s got a runner on base with none out against Nick Goody, who worked two scoreless frames.

Carlos Beltran drove in the first run of the fourth inning for his seventh RBI of the series. After a sacrifice fly by Aaron Hicks, Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Rob Refsnyder doubled to right-center for two more runs. Refsnyder played right field for the first six innings. He began his career in the outfield but was moved to second base in the minors and also played some third base during spring training but is now back in his original spot and seems more comfortable. Refsnyder was on a tear this month at SWB, batting .400 with five doubles, two home runs and five RBI in 14 games and 55 at-bats in May. For the season, he is hitting .293 with six doubles, two homers and 10 RBI in 34 games and 133 at-bats. Refsnyder batted .302 in 43 at-bats with the Yankees in two separate call-up stints last year.

Starlin Castro, who had three hits, doubled in a run with two out in the seventh inning to Chase Manaea. Beltran singled leading off the eighth for his 2,495th career hit to tie Mickey Vernon for 99th place on the all-time list. This was the 11th game in which Beltran served as the designated hitter since Alex Rodriguez went on the 15-day disabled list. In those starts, Beltran has hit .356 with nine runs, eight doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI in 45 at-bats. The Yankees are 9-2 in those games and 12-6 since A-Rod went on the DL.

All of which has helped the Yankees get out of the AL East cellar. They had been in last place for 27 consecutive days, a period covering 25 games since April 24. They do not want to go back and hope to take that message to the Blue Jays when they come to the Stadium next week for a three-game set.

Beltran thriving in A-Rod’s absence

Alex Rodriguez has been eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list since Thursday, but the Yankees seem in no hurry to activate him. The main reason is that he has not appeared to be 100 percent in running drills, which is crucial for a player disabled due to a strained right hamstring.

Another reason is that the Yankees have been able to use the designated hitter spot previously occupied almost solely by Rodriguez in a manner that is helpful for a club with aging players. Manager Joe Girardi has had the luxury of giving games off the field for catcher Brian McCann, first baseman Mark Teixeira and most notably right fielder Carlos Beltran.

Of the 17 games A-Rod has been out of the lineup, Beltran has served as the DH in 10 of them and sparing his battered legs has produced dividends to the offense. Beltran has been an absolute wrecking crew in Oakland where the Yankees have knocked off the Athletics two nights in a row in ending a four-game Athletics winning streak and putting together a three-game winning streak for the first time this season.

Beltran had three doubles and drove in three runs in Friday night’s 8-3 victory, one night after another three-RBI game with a double and a home run in Thursday night’s 4-1 triumph. In 41 at-bats as the DH in Rodriguez’s absence, Beltran has batted .342 with eight runs, eight doubles, five home runs and 16 RBI. The Yankees are 8-2 in the games Beltran has been the DH and 11-6 overall since A-Rod went on the DL.

Beltran doubled with two out in the first inning off Sonny Gray, who the Yanks would rough up later in the game, but was stranded. Beltran’s second double knocked in two runs in the Yankees’ four-run fourth that also included a two-run triple by Ronald Torreyes and a run-scoring wild pitch, one of three in the game by Gray, who also gave up six hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. The Oakland righthander finished third last season in the American League Cy Young Award voting behind winner Dallas Keuchel and runner-up David Price but has struggled big-time this year with a 3-5 record and a 6.19 ERA.

Beltran doubled in the Yankees’ sixth run in the sixth inning off reliever Ryan Dull. The offensive outburst was sufficient support for CC Sabathia, who in his first start since coming off the DL held the A’s to one run, three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in six innings. Having a five-run lead in the seventh meant Girardi could stay away from Dellin Betances and give Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman the night off as well.

Jacoby Ellsbury continued his hot hitting with two hits, including a two-run triple in the ninth. The center fielder is batting .395 with 10 runs, four doubles, two triples, six walks, five stolen bases and five RBI in 38 at-bats this month.

The winning decision was Sabathia’s 100th victory with the Yankees. With 106 victories for the Indians, Sabathia became the eighth pitcher since 1900 and the second with the Yankees to win at least 100 games with multiple franchises. Mike Mussina (Orioles) was the other Yankees pitcher to pull off the feat. The others were Grover Cleveland Alexander (Phillies and Cardinals), Lefty Grove (A’s and Red Sox), Nolan Ryan (Angels and Astros), Dennis Martinez (Expos and Orioles), Greg Maddux (Cubs and Braves) and Randy Johnson (Mariners and Diamondbacks).

Beltran homers to atone for weak base running

On a night when the Yankees seemed to be doing so many things to avoid scoring, a home run and shutdown pitching made up for all the bizarre offensive mistakes Thursday night in a 4-1 victory at Oakland against a team that had swept the Yankees at home last month.

Carlos Beltran was at the center of the Yankees’ schizophrenia. He drove in a run in the third inning with a double, then failed to score when right fielder Josh Reddick dropped Brian McCann’s fly ball with two outs by not running because he lost count of the outs.

That missed run looked huge when the Athletics tied the score in the fourth on a home run by Reddick off Ivan Nova, the only blemish on the righthander’s third straight impressive start that bodes well for his chances to stay in the rotation even with CC Sabathia coming off the the 15-day disabled list to start Friday night.

The Yankees regained the lead in the sixth on a two-out, RBI double by Aaron Hicks. This was the weirdest inning of the night for the Yanks. They had four hits in the inning against Oakland starter Kendall Graveman (1-6) but scored just the one run.

Chase Headley, who has really pick things up offensively of late, led off with a single but was picked off first base, although Headley and Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought Graveman balked. Dustin Ackley singled and crossed to third on a single to right field by Didi Gregorius, who did not run hard out of the box and then tried to stretch his hit on Reddick’s throw to third base and was out at second. Hicks’ two-bagger at least gave the Yankees something from the inning.

Beltran atoned for his base running gaffe by bashing a two-run home run in the top of the ninth off reliever Fernando Rodriguez. Turning a one-run lead into a three-lead with Aroldis Chapman coming in for the bottom of the ninth was very positive penance for Beltran. He got a chance to play hero thanks to Brett Gardner, who walked with two outs right before him. It was a big night for Gardner, who reached base four times (two singles, two walks), stole a base, scored two runs and robbed Yonder Alonso of a potential RBI extra-base hit with a running, leaping catch on the left field warning track in the second inning.

Nova limited the A’s to four hits and no walks with three strikeouts over the first six innings and got 12 outs on ground balls, a sign that his sinker was effective. Also efficient. Nova threw only 62 pitches. He is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA in 16 1/3 innings as a starter this year.

It may have been surprising to see Nova remain in the dugout as the seventh inning rolled around, but just as he did Wednesday night with Nathan Eovaldi pitching a one-hitter through six Girard could not resist the temptation to nail things down by bringing in Dellin Betances to pitch the seventh, Andrew Miller the eighth and Chapman the ninth. Opponents should take note — you are looking at a six-inning game if you fall behind the Yankees by the middle innings.

Bullpen trio saves near-perfect gem by Eovaldi

Managerial decisions in this age of pitch counts and crowded bullpens often lead to head-scratching among fans. The Yankees’ Joe Girardi and the Diamondbacks’ Chip Hale made questionable moves Wednesday night that in the end proved more costly to Arizona.

The Yankees avoided being swept in the series by the D-backs with a 4-2 victory in the finale, but Girardi put himself on the spot when he decided to remove Nathan Eovaldi after six nearly perfect innings and turn the final three innings over to the power arms of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. It worked out eventually, but it was touch-and-go there for a while.

Betances walked the first two batters in the seventh, then bounced back to retire the next three hitters, two on strikeouts. Miller hung a 0-2 slider to Chris Owings, who homered leading off the eighth to cut the Yanks’ lead to 3-2, and then struck out the next three hitters. A run in the top of the ninth on a bases-loaded wild pitch provided insurance for Chapman, who did not need it as he retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning to notch his fourth save.

Utilizing all three flame throwers in the same game for the third time was a sign of the importance Girardi placed on winning this game. Earlier in the day, principal owner Hal Steinbrenner leveled criticism at some players and singled out pitchers Luis Severino and Michael Pineda, first baseman Mark Texeira and third baseman Chade Headley. Tex had another tough game (0-for-5, three strikeouts). Headley was 2-for-4 but made a hesitating play in the field in the first inning that allowed the only run charged to Eovaldi, who was nothing short of magnificent.

Brett Gardner’s two-run home run in the first gave Eovaldi a lead before he took the mound. Jean Segura led off with a grounder up the middle that struck the second base bag with the second baseman legging out a double. He crossed to third on a groundout and came home on another, although he stopped in the base path at one point but Headley threw to first base for the sure out.

Eovaldi retired 18 batters in a row following Segura’s hit. The righthander kept the ball down and got 10 outs on ground balls to go with five strikeouts. Of the three fly ball outs against him, two were caught in foul ground. Eovaldi threw 85 pitches through six innings, so it was something of a surprise not to see him come out for the seventh. Girardi admitted he would have kept Eovaldi in the game if he were still working on a no-hitter but added he would not hesitate to use the Betances-Miller-Chapman combine when they were well rested and the opportunity presented itself.

Hale’s questionable decision came in the sixth inning with the score 2-1 Yankees. Eovaldi helped himself with the bat by dropping a sacrifice bunt to move Headley to second base with two out. Hale went to the mound to talk to D-backs starter Shelby Miller but let him pitch to Jacoby Ellsbury, who had already reached base three times in the game and had never made an out against Miller. That statement held when Ellsbury hit a ground single to left that scored Headley and made Ellsbury 6-for-6 in his career against Miller. Ellsbury reached base five times in the game with a double, two singles and two walks and scored on the ninth-inning wild pitch. Right behind him was Gardner with two hits, a run and two RBI.

Eovaldi has four consecutive winning decisions over his past five starts with a 3.48 ERA over 31 innings. Chase Field is also something of a home away from home for Eovaldi, who in six career games (five starts) in the Phoenix yard is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 30 1/3 innings and has held opponents to a .165 batting average in 103 at-bats.

Severino hurts elbow in another rough outing

Too bad it stopped raining. It was hard for Yankees fans not to feel that way Friday night. A rainout might have been more acceptable than a 7-1 loss to the White Sox and undefeated Chris Sale, who raised his record to 8-0.

The 0 that really bothers the Yankees is the one in Luis Severino’s 0-6 record. It was another rough outing for the second-year righthander who displayed so much promise as a rookie last season but is staring at a very unsightly 7.46 ERA this year.

Going against a pitcher of Sale’s quality compels an opposing starter to be at his best and keep runs to a minimum. Severino did not do that. He failed to pitch beyond the third inning and was in trouble in each one. There may be more trouble for Severino, who left the game reporting soreness in the back of his right elbow and was to undergo an MRI exam later in the night.

A splendid play at shortstop by Ronald Torreyes to end the first inning saved Severino from giving up a run, but the White Sox struck quickly in the second inning on doubles by Brett Lawrie and Alex Avila book ending a groundout. A walk to 9-hole hitter Austin Jackson and an infield single by Adam Eaton loaded the bases. Severino struck out Jimmy Rollins for the second out, but Jose Abreu lined a single to center to drive in two runs.

Severino got two quick outs at the start of the third and never got another one. Avila singled to left, Jackson walked again, and Eaton doubled over Aaron Hicks in center field for two runs. Rollins followed with a two-run homer, and the rout was on.

Manager Joe Girardi has been supportive of Severino all year but had a severe critique after the game, saying “He had no command. His ball was up. He was missing his spots. He was not putting the ball where he wanted it.”

The lone blemish in Sale’s second complete game of the season was a home run by Chase Headley leading off the second inning. Headley did not have an extra-base hit in the first 32 games this season and has homered in each of the past two games.

Sale set down 15 batters in a row before Starlin Castro led off the ninth with a single. Mark Teixeira doubled with one out, but Sale retired Headley on a liner to center field and Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre callup Gary Sanchez, who was 0-for-4 as the designated hitter, on a grounder to short.

On the plus side for the Yankees were the 6 1/3 scoreless innings combined by relievers Nick Goody, Chasen Shreve and Kirby Yates. Goody worked 3 1/3 of those innings and allowed one hit and no walks with three strikeouts.

Sanchez called up from Triple A

The Yankees could use all the right-handed help they can find against White Sox lefthander Chris Sale (7-0, 1.79 ERA), who was paired against Yankees righthander Luis Severino (0-5, 6.12 ERA) in Friday night’s opener of a three-game series. The Yankees hoped that the weather forecast was accurate that the rain that struck the area late in the afternoon would stop by the scheduled game time of 7:05 p.m.

Toward that end, the Yankees recalled catcher Gary Sanchez from Triple A Scranton-Wilkes Barre and planned to start him as the designated hitter in a different looking lineup put together by manager Joe Girardi.

Brett Gardner, who has been batting leadoff while Jacoby Ellsbury has been out with a hip ailment, was the only left-handed hitter in the batting order and was dropped to seventh. At the top of the order was Aaron Hicks, followed by Starlin Castro and three switch hitters batting righty — Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley. Sanchez was in the 6-hole in front of Gardner with Austin Romine behind the plate batting eighth and Ronald Torreyes at shortstop in the 9-hole.

Sanchez got off to a rough start at SWB but has heated up recently and had a slash line of .288/.336/.541 with 13 runs, 11 doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI in 27 games and 111 at-bats. Sanchez was in line to be the backup to regular Yankees catcher Brian McCann but was beaten out for the job in spring training by Romine.

Sale entered the game working on an eight-game winning streak (in eight consecutive starts) dating back to Oct. 2 last year. The Yankees were the last team to beat Sale with a 3-2 victory last Sept. 24 at Yankee Stadium on the strength of a three-run home run by Beltran in the third inning.

The Yankees are the only team this season to end a pitcher’s winning streak of at least eight games. They handed Red Sox lefthander David Price a loss May 7 at the Stadium that stopped his nine-game winning streak (over 11 starts from Sept. 5 last year to May 1 this year). Sale will be the seventh pitcher in the majors this season to take the mound with a winning streak of eight games or longer (of the first six, only Price has had his streak ended).

This marks the only Friday the 13th game on the Yankees’ 2016 schedule, their first Friday the 13th game since a 7-0 victory June 13, 2014 at Oakland. Since 2012, the Yankees are 3-1 on Friday the 13th, with two of their three victories shutouts. The other was a 5-0 victory April 13, 2012 over the Angels at Yankee Stadium.

Tack-on runs keep Chapman in bullpen

Yankees fans nearly got their first look at the new bullpen formula Thursday night, the one envisioned by general manager Brian Cashman when he traded for Aroldis Chapman from the Reds in the offseason. Chapman’s 30-day suspension for violation of Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy postponed his joining the Yankees until this week but already he has picked up one save.

It appeared that Thursday night would be the first time manager Joe Girardi would use all three power relievers in the same game, and it was against a Royals team that had a similar bullpen setup in reaching two World Series with Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis.

Dellin Betances worked a perfect seventh inning before Girardi called on Andrew Miller to pitch the eighth, which he did with the same result as Betances. But when the Yankees scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to boost their lead to 7-3, the save opportunity for Chapman was lost if he started the inning. Girardi brought Chasen Shreve to open the ninth but also had Chapman up in case the Royals rallied to create a save situation. That never occurred as the Yanks’ lead held up.

I actually heard some boos when Shreve’s name was announced as he trotted to the mound. This poses an interesting dilemma for Girardi. The buzz Chapman’s 100-mph heat has brought to Yankee Stadium means that more fans stick around at the end of the game the way they did for Mariano Rivera. They could see Chapman warming up in the bullpen and had their appetites whetted only to be disappointed that he did not enter the game.

Girardi made the right call. Why waste Chapman with a four-run lead when he may be needed Friday night against a White Sox team that has the best record in the American League? Taking three of four games from the reigning World Series champions puts the Yankees in a good frame of mind going into the weekend series against the White Sox.

Watching Starlin Castro take batting practice before the game I noticed that he concentrated on hitting the ball to the opposite field, not a bad approach for a right-handed batter at Yankee Stadium. Several of Castro’s BP swings resulted in his driving the ball over the comfy right field porch.

It does not always happen that a player will carry his pregame success into the game, but it did this time for Castro as he drove a a 1-1 pitch from the Royals’ Ian Kennedy to right-center for his fourth home run that put the Yankees on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Castro also went the other way against another former Yankees pitcher, Chien-Ming Wang, for an RBI single in the two-run seventh.

More than a month into the 2016 season, Castro has adapted well to the Stadium. He is batting .333 with six runs, two doubles, one home run and two RBI in 21 at-bats on the homestand. Overall at the Stadium, Castro is hitting .348 with eight runs, six doubles, three home runs and 11 RBI in 69 at-bats.

Castro’s shot was just the beginning of a long-ball procession for the Yanks against Kennedy, the former Yankees prospect who entered the game with a 2.13 ERA but had it swell to 3.25.

Chase Headley finally got an extra base hit. It came in the Yankees’ 33rd game and his 103rd plate appearance. Batting left-handed against the right-handed Kennedy, Headley also went to the opposite field and hit a two-run home run down the left field line in the second inning.

Headley has also showed signs on the homestand of being on the verge of breaking out of his season-long slump. He walked in the seventh and added a single in the eighth and is hitting .389 with seven runs and four RBI in 18 at-bats on the homestand.

After the Royals closed to 3-2 in the fourth against Nathan Eovaldi on a solo home run by Alex Gordon and a two-out, RBI single by Christian Colon, Didi Gregorius got into the act with a two-run homer to right in the bottom of the inning.

Eovaldi, who pitched eight innings in his previous start, against the Red Sox, barely got through five this time as his pitch count soared to 98. KC cut the Yankees’ lead to 5-3 in the fifth and threatened to go ahead, but Carlos Beltan made a leaping catch at the top of the wall in right field to take down Salvador Perez’s bid for a three-run homer

Yanks homers give Chapman a chance to close

Yankees fans got their first look at Aroldis Chapman in pinstripes Monday night. The lefthander was everything as advertised with gun readings in triple figures, but there was some rust as well befitting a pitcher who sat out a 30-day suspension at the start of the season for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy.

Of the 17 pitches Chapman threw in the ninth inning, six were 100 miles per hour or faster — four topped out at 101 and the other two were at 100. After quick strikeouts of the first two batters of the inning, pinch hitter Paulo Orlando ripped a double to center field on what at 90 mph was probably a changeup.

That was impressive for Orlando, who was on the bench all night and then was told to go up and try to hit a guy throwing 100 mph regularly. Alcides Escobar followed with a sharply-struck single past Didi Gregorius at shortstop to drive in Orlando before Lorenzo Cain was out on a pepper shot to Chapman.

In the 6-3 victory, the Yankees figured out a way to solve their dilemma of hitting with runners in scoring position — just come up with no one on base let alone in scoring position and hit the ball over the fence.

That approach worked very well against Royals righthander Chris Young, not the former Yankees outfielder but the journeyman pitcher who was one of Kansas City’s World Series heroes last year. The Yanks bashed five solo home runs off Young in 2 2/3 innings.

Brian McCann began the assault with two out in the first inning. After the Royals tied the score in the second on a homer by Alex Gordon, Carlos Beltran led off the bottom of the inning by taking Young deep. Beltran was just getting started it seemed.

Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks started things off in the third with bombs to right field. Two outs later, Beltran connected again for his 38th multi-homer game (all but one are two-homer games). That marked the first three-homer inning for the Yankees since May 25 last year, also against KC and Jeremy Guthrie, by Gardner, McCann and Chase Headley.

That was it for Young, who tied a dubious franchise record for home runs allowed in a single appearance and departed the game with a swollen 6.68 ERA. Such an outing did not bode well for the defending World Series champs because they have had just as hard time as the Yankees scoring runs this year. KC entered play with only one more run scored than the Bombers.

The Royals might have been better off starting Dillon Gee, who gave up only one run on a sacrifice fly by Hicks in 5 1/3 innings.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was hoping Ivan Nova, starting in place of disabled pitcher CC Sabathia, could give the Yankees at least 75 pitches. Nova did even better than that (81 pitches), but his own error probably cost him a shot at a winning decision.

Nova missed the bag taking a throw from Mark Teixeira while covering first base on a grounder by Escobar and lost a precious out. When left-handed Eric Hosmer came to the plate with two down in the fifth, Girardi brought in lefthander Phil Coke to face the Royals first baseman who flied out to the left field warning track. Failing to pitch a full five innings to qualify for a victory, Nova was hung with a no-decision despite a first-rate effort.

The victory went to Kirby Yates (2-0), who pitched scoreless, one-hit ball for 1 2/3 innings. It was also a big night for rookie Ben Gamel, who singled in his first major-league plate appearance in the eighth.

The Yankees finished the game 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position, but they enjoyed their new formula for scoring.

Yankees dealing with non-DL injuries

Starlin Castro was not in the starting lineup for the Yankees Monday night as they opened a four-game series at Yankee Stadium against the reigning World Series champion Royals, but that was more due to manager Joe Girardi’s characteristic cautionary approach to injuries that anything too serious.

Castro told reporters that his left ribcage was still sore but that he could have played. Girardi did not disagree but felt comfortable giving the second baseman who leads the club in hits (32) another day to get healthy. Castro has has some adventures on the bases. He was caught off third base in Sunday night’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox and was picked off second base last week at Baltimore.

The Yankees also continue to be without center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has not played since the first inning Friday night because of a tight right hip. Although not on the 15-day disabled list with Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, Ellsbury has yet to do any baseball-related activity. Aaron Hicks was in center field and Ronald Torreyes at second base Monday night.

The Yankees also activated relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman. To make room for the lefthander on the roster, there Yankees optioned Johnny Barbato to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Barbato, a righthander who won the James P. Dawson Award as the outstanding rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp, was 1-2 with a 5.54 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 games covering 13 innings.

Ivan Nova was to make his first start of the season in place of Sabathia, who has a strained left groin. Girardi was hopeful that Nova, who is 1-1 with a 5.14 ERA in six relief appearances totaling 14 innings, could give him at least 75 pitches. Nova’s longest outing in relief was four innings, which he did twice, April 6 against the Astros at the Stadium and April 26 against the Rangers at Arlington, Texas.

Last year, the Yankees had the best record of an American League club against AL Central competition of 21-12 (.625). Only the National League’s Pirates did better against AL Central competition in 13 fewer games at 13-7 (.650). The Yankees entered play Monday night with a 1-1 record against the AL Central (both games against the Tigers).

The Yanks also found out they will have an additional workload coming up. Their rainout April 10 at Detroit’s Comerica Park will be made up there at 7:40 p.m. June 2, which had been an open date for both clubs. With this date set, the Yankees will play on 40 of 41 days from May 3 through June 6. Their only off day during that stretch will be May 23 upon returning from a trip to Phoenix and Oakland

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