Results tagged ‘ World Series ’

Rookie pair take the baton from A-Rod

On the first day of Yankees baseball without Alex Rodriguez, the franchise turned back the clock to honor its World Series title club of 20 years ago and then offered a glimpse into the future with a starting lineup containing some new names.

And those names, Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge, made history right away. They became the first teammates to hit home runs in their first major league plate appearances in the same game. On top of that, they did so in successive at-bats.

Austin was still getting high-fived in the dugout after his drive into the lower right field stands when Judge smoked a thunderous clout that hit off the facade above the batter’s eye in dead center field well above Monument Park.


Tyler Austin (left) congratulated  for first major-league home run by teammate Aaron Judge, who followed suit minutes later (USA Today photo). 

“You can’t draw it up better than that,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We were even able to get both balls back. Austin’s bounced back onto the field, and Aaron’s went into the net. That was special.”

Each newcomer had a 2-for-4 game and displayed electric potential. Less than 24 hours after Yankees fans bid farewell to A-Rod, a new era was emerging before an enthusiastic crowd of 41,682 at Yankee Stadium. The paperwork of granting Rodriguez his unconditional release cleared a roster spot for Austin, who went to work immediately at first base for a resting Mark Teixeira.

After left fielder Brett Gardner, who has hit by a pitch Friday night, notified Girardi that he would not be a player Saturday, the Yankees got word to Judge, who was in upstate Rochester with Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, around midnight. He made the lengthy drive down the Dewey Thruway, hit the city at around 6 a.m. and reported for duty four hours later.

It did not take either rookie long to get into the mix. Each touched the ball in the first inning, which I always think is important for a player making his big-league debut. It gets him in the game from the outset. Austin took a throw at first base from shortstop Didi Gregorius, and Judge made a nice play tracking a fly ball to right field by Evan Longoria.

Look, Friday night was a nice sentimental sendoff to a once great player, but after watching Rodriguez swing behind fastballs for the better part of a .200 season and hit even below that over the past seven calendar months, change was refreshing. Former Scranton teammates Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine were on the field as well. The Yankees are definitely showing off a new look.

Some veterans did their part in the 8-4 victory over the Rays. Starlin Castro, Aaron Hicks and Gregorius, in the unfamiliar role as cleanup hitter, also went deep as the Yankees matched their season high for homers in a game with five. The amazing part of that is that none in the quintet is over the age of 26.

The outburst helped Masahiro Tanaka offset two home runs by Tampa Bay first baseman Phil Miller, which accounted for all the Rays’ runs. Tanaka was pretty effective against everybody else in a no-walk, eight-strikeout effort over seven innings.

Before the game, a reunion of the 1996 World Series champions brought some of that era’s favorites onto the field for a pregame ceremony in which players emerged from the gate between the visitors’ bullpen and Monument Park and walked to their former positions — Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Tino Martinez, Wade Boggs, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Paul O’Neill, Jimmy Key, Cecil Fielder, David Cone, John Wetteland, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden and Girardi, among others. Arriving on carts were coaches Chris Chambliss, Willie Randolph and Jose Cardenal in one and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre with manager Joe Torre in another. There was also a tribute to the late Don Zimmer on the center field screen.

This was the unit that rebounded from the playoff loss to Seattle the year before to begin a dynastic run that led to in six American League pennants and four World Series titles over eight seasons. As Yankees fans witnessed Saturday, it has to start somewhere.

Celebratory weekend at Yankee Stadium

The Yankees will open a six-game homestand with an especially busy weekend as they honor Alex Rodriguez Friday night, the 20th anniversary of the 1996 World Series champions Saturday and Mariano Rivera Sunday in the three-game series against the Rays.

The Yanks will recognize Rodriguez in a pregame ceremony prior to his final game with the club. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and be in their seats by 6:50 p.m. with ceremonies to follow soon thereafter. Please note that the Yankees-Rays game is now scheduled to start at 7:35 p.m.

The Yankees’ celebration of their World Series triumph of 20 years ago will begin Friday night as the first 15,000 people in attendance will receive a 1996 World Series replica trophy, presented by Delta Air Lines.

An on-field reunion of the 1996 champs will take place before Saturday’s game. Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Wade Boggs will be in attendance, along with Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Jimmy Key, John Wetteland, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, among others.

Finishing off the weekend will be Sunday’s Monument Park plaque dedication ceremony for Rivera, which will feature many notable Yankees alumni and special guests to honor Major League Baseball’s all-time saves leader.

Fans are asked to be in their seats by noon for the introductions and subsequent ceremonies prior to the regularly scheduled Saturday and Sunday games, which will air exclusively on the YES Network along with the pregame festivities. On both dates, Yankee Stadium gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 11 a.m.

The Hard Rock Cafe presents Little Steven’s Underground Garage Concert Series, powered by JBL will continue in the Pepsi Food Court on the third-base side of the Field Level Friday with The Connection. The performance is scheduled to take place from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. Admission to the pregame concert is included with a valid game ticket for that date. Future acts are currently scheduled to perform throughout the summer. More information on the series can be found at http://www.yankees.com/bands.

Ticket specials will run Monday Military Personnel Game), Tuesday (Military Personnel Game) and Wednesday (MasterCard Half-Price, Military Personnel, Senior Citizen, Student and Youth Game). For a complete list of ticket specials, including game dates, seating locations, and terms and conditions, fans should visit http://www.yankees.com/ticketspecials. Please note that all ticket specials are subject to availability.

The homestand will also feature the following promotional items and dates:

Monday, Aug. 15 – Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees T-shirt Night, presented by Kowa, to first 18,000 in attendance.

Tuesday, Aug. 16 – Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 7:05 p.m.
* Yankees Coloring Book Night, presented by Party City, to first 18,000 in attendance, 14 and younger.

Wednesday, Aug. 17 – Yankees vs. Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
* CC Sabathia Growth Chart Day, presented by Catch 24 Advertising, to first 10,000 Guests in attendance, 14 and younger.

Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.yankees.com, http://www.yankeesbeisbol.com, at the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office, via Ticketmaster phone at 877-469-9849, Ticketmaster TTY at 800-943-4327 and at all Ticket Offices located within Yankees Clubhouse Shops. Fans with questions may call 212-YANKEES [926-5337] or email tickets@yankees.com.

For information on parking and public transportation options to the Stadium, please visit http://www.yankees.com and click on the Yankee Stadium tab at the top of the page.

A-Rod says he will call it a career after Friday

As the days and nights went by with his name missing from the lineup as the result of a lack of production (two hits in his past 28 at-bats), Alex Rodriguez took pause at his situation. Then a phone call from Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner came Wednesday that began a negotiating period that led to the event Sunday morning at Yankee Stadium.

At a rare news conference for which nothing had been leaked to a media outlet beforehand, the Yankees and Rodriguez announced that he will play his last major league game at the end of the week. Following Friday night’s game against the Rays, Rodriguez will be unconditionally released by the Yankees from his player contract in order to sign a contract to serve as a special advisor and instructor with the club through Dec. 31, 2017. A-Rod’s player contract was to run through the 2017 season, so the Yankees will pay off the remainder after Friday.

“This is a tough day,” Rodriguez said. “I love this game, and I love this team. Today, I am saying goodbye to both.”

Rodriguez, 41, was overtaken by emotion and openly wept before he could continue. He made the decision after several days of negotiations directly with Steinbrenner. Speculation had increased over the past two weeks as Rodriguez lost designated hitter at-bats to Carlos Beltran, who was later traded, and most recently to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Gary Sanchez.

“The last four weeks have not been fun,” Rodriguez said. “It has been extremely painful and embarrassing being on the bench. I am very excited about Friday.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he would have to talk to Rodriguez about how he might be used in the games prior to Friday that include a three-game series at Boston. A-Rod was not in Sunday’s starting lineup against the Indians. Brian McCann was the DH.

“You always think you have one more hit in you, but I am at peace with it,” Rodriguez said about his decision. “The goal in New York never changes, to work toward winning a championship. Hal recognized that I enjoy working with young players. I am invested in these kids.”

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which we know he can flourish,” Steinbrenner said in a prepared statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as am organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to contribute directly to their growth and success. Baseball runs through his blood. He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a willing and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

General manager Brian Cashman recalled several years ago when Rodriguez came back from an injury-rehabilitation stint at Class A Tampa giving a glowing scouting report on Greg Bird, who was lost for the 2016 season because of an injury but who is in the Yankees’ sights as their future first baseman.

“I look forward to his impacting our young players,” Cashman said. “Alex has always been a leader and a mentor.”

“I’ll remember how much he loved the game and gave back to it,” Girardi said. “He has been a teacher forever. Alex has what every person should have — a passion for something. He has had that for baseball.”

Rodriguez thanked his mother and two daughters; friends and other family; managers, coaches and teammates; commissioner Rob Manfred and fans “for letting me enjoy playing this game.”

Cashman, who was very busy at the non-waiver trade deadline with deals involving Beltran, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, said there had been no interest expressed by clubs in Rodriguez, who could still change his mind after the Friday night game and pursue talks with other teams on his own. He made that seem doubtful, however.

“I have not thought past the pinstripes,” Rodriguez said. “My horizon is Friday.”


BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O’Connell presents 2007 AL MVP Award to Alex Rodriguez April 2, 2008 at Yankee Stadium

Rodriguez, a three-time American League Most Valuable Player (2003, ’05, ’07) and 14-time All-Star (1996-98, ’00-08, ‘10-11), ranks fourth on baseball’s all-time list with 696 home runs, including a record 25 grand slams. He is second in major-league history with 2,084 runs batted in (trailing only Hank Aaron’s 2,297), eighth with 2,021 runs scored and 19th with 3,114 hits. Rodriguez has had 14 seasons of at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI (1996, ’98-2010), the only big leaguer to accomplish the feat.

Originally acquired Feb. 16, 2004, from the Rangers in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and a player to be named (Joaquin Arias), Rodriguez shifted from shortstop to third base before settling in as the DH last year. In 12 seasons for the Yankees, A-Rod reached postseason play nine times and won the World Series in 2009. During that postseason, he batted .365 with 15 runs, five doubles, six home runs and 18 RBI in 15 games and 52 at-bats and won the Babe Ruth Award from the New York Chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the outstanding player of the 2009 postseason.

Displaying his 2009 World Series ring, Cashman said, “We do not have this in our trophy case if not for the significant contributions of Alex Rodriguez.”

A-Rod concurred. He spoke of that World Series victory as his most memorable achievement. Referring to the final out, he said, “Mariano [Rivera] on the mound, Robinson [Cano] throwing the ball to Tex [Mark Teixeira] at first base is something I will never forget.”

In 1,506 career games with the Yankees, Rodriguez has hit .284 with 1,012 runs, 262 doubles, nine triples, 351 home runs, 1,094 RBI, 779 walks, 152 stolen bases, a .378 on-base percentage and a .901 OPS in 5,568 at-bats. On the Yankees’ all-time lists, A-Rod ranks second in grand slams (15), sixth in homers and slugging percentage (.523), seventh in OPS (min: 2,500PA), 10th in runs, 11th in RBI and stolen bases, 12th in walks, 17th in games played and 18th in on-base percentage.

Rodriguez acknowledged that not all of his career was glorious. He was suspended for the entire 2014 season for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against performance enhancing drugs, which has tainted his legacy.

“I want to be remembered as someone who was madly in love with baseball, as someone who slipped and fell a lot but still got back up,” Rodriguez said.

He got back up one last time when he hit 33 home runs in 2015, although he tailed off dramatically the final two months of the season. That stretch continued into 2016. Over the calendar year since last August, Rodriguez had batted .198 with 124 strikeouts in 398 at-bats.

As Cashman said, “The game tells you when.”

With Teixeira’s announcement last week that he will retire at season’s end, CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner will be all that remains from the 2009 postseason roster. We are truly seeing the end of an era.

Teixeira’s battered body told him it was time

Upon reflection of when his playing days were nearing an end, Yankees manager Joe Girardi recalled praying that it would be revealed to him when to retire. Then he hurt his back. The daily struggle to stay healthy was all he needed to know that the time to walk away had come.

It is never easy for a gifted athlete who has known success at a high level. Many of them need to have the uniform torn off them before they can admit it is over. Mark Teixeira was not like that. He was more like Girardi.

“My body can’t do it anymore,” Teixeira said before Friday night’s game at Yankee Stadium. “It has been a struggle to stay on the field the last three or four years.”

That is why Teixeira called a late-afternoon press conference where he announced that he will retire at the end of this season. With the Yankees in a period of transition, he did not want to be a distraction. Tex has dealt with neck and knee issues all year. In recent seasons, he has seen more of the trainer’s room that he would like.

I remember Don Mattingly telling me years ago when back issues pushed him towards retirement that it took so much more energy and work to get into the shape needed for the 162-game grind of the Major League Baseball schedule that he knew it was time to walk away, as difficult as that was to do.

“Every kid playing whiffle ball in the backyard or playing Little League, you dream of being a major league baseball player,” Teixeira said. “After 14 years it’s time for me to do something else and after this season I’m going to retire and do something else. I got to live out my dream and had more success than I could ever imagined, but it felt like it was the right time to step away from the game. I want to finish this season on a high note.”

Teixeira, who had a big game Wednesday night only to be on the sidelines again Thursday night because of a sore knee, talked it over with Girardi and told him how he was leaning.

“Are you sure,” Girardi said to Teixeira. “At this point in a season, players are banged up and think along those lines.”

Teixeira assured Girardi he was certain about his decision and then added, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do. What would that be?”

Girardi answered, “Play first base.”

So Teixeira was back in the lineup Friday night. He intends to play out the season as much as his aching knee and neck allow. Tex has been playing with a cartilage tear in his right knee since early June. His neck sprain is a chronic condition.

It was just a year ago that a trimmed-down Teixeira belted 31 home runs and was in the discussion for American League Most Valuable Player consideration entering August, but a foul ball off his knee caused more damage that originally thought that ended his season prematurely.

He has struggled offensively much of this season and entered play Friday night batting .198 with 10 home runs and 27 RBI. Tex has picked it up lately. He has reached safely in six consecutive plate appearances and eight of his past nine. He was on base in nine of 13 plate appearances in his three Subway Series games against the Mets. Over his past eight games, Teixeira has had a slash line of .333/.484/.542 with five runs, two doubles, one home run and four RBI in 24 at-bats.

His 400th career double Tuesday night at Citi Field made him the first switch-hitter in major league history with 400 career doubles and 400 career home runs. His 404 homers rank fifth on the switch hitter list behind Mickey Mantle (536), Eddie Murray (504), Chipper Jones (468) and former Yankees teammate Carlos Beltran (415).

Teixeira grew up a Murray fan in Annapolis, Md., and was encouraged to switch-hit by his father, whom he thanked in a tearful address. “I need to let you know,” he said. “The Teixeira’s are cryers.”

He thanked the Rangers, who drafted him in the first round and signed him in 2001, and Buck Showalter, his manager in Texas who showed patience after Teixeira started his career with 15 hitless at-bats but finished the season with 26 home runs. He called second stop Atlanta his second home since he attended Georgia Tech and married a Georgia girl. He thanked the Angels for “two fabulous months” in 2008 and giving him his first taste of postseason play.

But it was his time with the Yankees that he loved most. Signing an eight-year contract prior to the 2009 season, he finished second in the MVP race that year with a 39-homer, 122-RBI output for the most recent Yankees team to win the World Series.

“2009 was a whirlwind, winning the World Series in the first year of the new Stadium,” Teixeira said. “I probably didn’t appreciate it as much at the time because you think you’ll win three or four more.”

The only personal achievement Teixeira mentioned was the pride he had in having eight seasons of more than 30 homers and 100 RBI.

Yet all that seemed so far away as the injuries piled up. And with free agency lurking after season’s end, Teixeira decided this was the moment to call it a career once the schedule is finished.

“Being a free agent at season’s end, and being 36, retirement is always in the back of your mind,” he said. “If I have to grind through the season not being healthy, I’d rather be somewhere else. I did not want to be a distraction. I would miss my kids way too much to be in some training room in Detroit not knowing if I can play while they’re in Little League or a play or something.”

With the Yankees in this period of transition, there is always the possibility a contending team might be interested in a player who won five Gold Glove and three Silver Slugger Awards and was a three-time All-Star.

“There has been no conversation about a trade, but I want to retire as a Yankee,” Teixeira said. “There is something about the Yankees. When you play against them you want to beat them or play well at Yankee Stadium. It was an unbelievable blessing to get to wear the pinstripes every day.”

Tex also had a message to Yankees fans: “They are the greatest fans in the world. I was far from perfect, but I appreciated your support. I gave you everything I had. It wasn’t always enough, but I tried very hard and am proud to have such fans rooting for the Yankees.”

And soon he will be among them.

“I’ll be watching,” Teixeira said. “I’ll be a Yankees fan forever.”

Yanks to honor ’96 champs, plus a plaque for Mo

The Yankees will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1996 World Series championship team with several events in August, including a pregame on-field reunion ceremony Saturday, Aug. 13, and the unveiling of Mariano Rivera’s Monument Park plaque Sunday, August 14.

The celebration will begin Friday, Aug. 12, as the first 15,000 people in attendance for the Yankees’ 7:05 p.m. game against the Rays will receive a 1996 World Series replica trophy presented by Delta Air Lines (see photo).


The following day features the on-field Reunion of the 1996 World Series title team, including Rivera, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neill, David Cone, Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, World Series Most Valuable Player John Wetteland and Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and manager Joe Torre.

The weekend will conclude with Rivera’s Monument Park Plaque Dedication Ceremony, which will feature many notable Yankees alumni and special guests on hand to honor baseball’s all-time saves leader.

Fans are requested to be in their seats by noon to enjoy the introductions and subsequent ceremonies prior to the regularly scheduled Saturday and Sunday games that will air exclusively on the YES Network along with the pregame festivities. On both dates, Stadium gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 11 a.m.

The celebration culminates on Sunday, Aug. 28, with 1996 World Series Champions Fan Ring Day presented by Betteridge Jewelers (see photo) for the first 18,000 in attendance aged 14 and younger.


The complete list of those scheduled to attend the 1996 Yankees Reunion on Saturday, Aug. 13:

Brian Boehringer, Wade Boggs, Jose Cardenal, Tony Cloninger, David Cone, Mariano Duncan, Cecil Fielder, Andy Fox, Joe Girardi, Dwight Gooden, Charlie Hayes, Matt Howard, Derek Jeter, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Key, Jim Leyritz, Graeme Lloyd, Tino Martinez, Ramiro Mendoza, Gene Monahan, Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Dave Pavlas, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Tim Raines, Willie Randolph, Mariano Rivera, Darryl Strawberry, Joe Torre, John Wetteland, Bernie Williams.

70th Yankees Old-Timers’ Day coming June 12

Five Hall of Famers will be among more than 40 former Yankees scheduled to attend the 70th annual Old-Timers’ Day Sunday, June 12, at Yankee Stadium. Fans are asked to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. for the festivities with the traditional Old-Timers’ game to follow. All pregame celebrations will be aired exclusively on the YES Network. The Yankees will then play the Tigers at 2:05 p.m., also on YES. Gates will open to ticket-holding fans at 10 a.m.

The Old-Timers are headlined by Hall of Famers Whitey Ford, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Rickey Henderson, Reggie Jackson and Joe Torre. Former Yankees and current YES Network broadcasters David Cone, John Flaherty and Paul O’Neill will also be part of the pregame with program.

Three-time All-Star closer John Wetteland, who won the 1996 World Series Most Valuable Player Award with saves in all four of their victories toward their 23rd World Series title, will make his Old-Timers’ Day debut, alongside 1996 teammate Mariano Duncan, as well as Bubba Crosby and the oldest living former Yankees player, Eddie Robinson, 95.

Joining the Hall of Famers and former Yankees on the field will be the widows of five legendary Yankees—Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim “Catfish” Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.

A complete list of Old Timers’ Day attendees:

Jesse Barfield, Brian Boehringer, Scott Bradley, Dr. Bobby Brown, Homer Bush, David Cone, Bubba Crosby, Bucky Dent, Al Downing, Brian Doyle, Mariano Duncan, John Flaherty, Whitey Ford, Oscar Gamble, Joe Girardi, Rich “Goose” Gossage, Ron Guidry, Charlie Hayes, Rickey Henderson, Arlene Howard (widow), Helen Hunter (widow), Reggie Jackson, Scott Kamieniecki, Pat Kelly, Don Larsen, Graeme Lloyd, Hector Lopez, Jill Martin (widow), Hideki Matsui, Lee Mazzilli, Ramiro Mendoza, Stump Merrill, Gene “Stick” Michael, Gene Monahan (Trainer), Diana Munson (widow), Kay Murcer (widow), Jeff Nelson, Paul O’Neill, Joe Pepitone, Lou Piniella, Willie Randolph, Mickey Rivers, Eddie Robinson, Tanyon Sturtze, Ralph Terry, Marcus Thames, Joe Torre, John Wetteland, Roy White, Bernie Williams.

Pineda still cannot get untracked

The Yankees have had a recent history of success against reigning American League pennant winners, including the previous two nights with victories over the Royals. But Kansas City resembled more the team that beat the Mets in last year’s World Series Wednesday night than in the first two games of the series and coasted to a 7-3 victory.

Even with the loss, the Yankees have a .640 winning percentage since 2011 against the prior season’s AL champions based on a 32-18 record. The Yankees were 7-2 against the Rangers in 2011 and 4-3 against them in 2012, 3-3 against the Tigers in 2013, 12-7 against the Red Sox in 2014 and 4-2 against the Royals last year. This season, the Yankees are 2-1 against KC.

Another uneven start from Michael Pineda put the Yankees in a 4-0 hole in the first inning. The righthander followed that with four scoreless innings while his teammates closed to 4-3 entering the sixth. But Pineda put two runners on after two were out that inning, and both scored when reliever Nick Goody hit Alcives Escobar with a pitch to load the bases and gave up a two-run single to Lorenzo Cain, who homered three times Tuesday night.

The Royals used the long ball again Wednesday night, only this time toward a winning cause. A three-run shot by Salvador Perez was the crushing blow in the first inning off Pineda, whose record fell to 1-4 with a 6.28 ERA. Kendrys Morales homered off Phil Coke leading off the seventh inning. The Royals have gone deep eight times in the series.

Most disturbing of all about Pineda’s outing was his lack of command. He was once the epitome of the control pitcher that forced hitters to earn their way on base. Four walks and two hit batters was decidedly out of character for the righthander yet in keeping with a negative trend this year. Pineda has walked 13 batters in 38 2/3 innings, a rate of slightly more than three walks per nine innings. His career mark is 1.9. Pineda has also hit three batters this year, which is as many as he did all of last season in 160 2/3 innings.

The Yankees tried to get him off the hook. Carlos Betran led off the second inning against Yordano Ventura with his seventh home run of the season and career No. 399, which tied Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga for 54th place on the all-time list. A two-out, RBI single by Chase Headley cut the Royals’ lead in half.

It became a one-run game when the Yankees added a run in the fifth on a walk to Brett Gardner, a double by Starlin Castro and a grounder to the right side by Brian McCann. They got only two hits after that and were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position for the game.

Mark Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury were still out of the lineup, but Aaron Hicks has started to heat up and lifted his batting average above .200 at .216 with three hits.

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

Yanks need to get leads for bullpen trio

The Yankees will get some help Monday, although it will not be in an area of need. Aroldis Chapman, the flame-throwing relief pitcher, will come off his 30-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, but the back end of the bullpen is the least of the Yankees’ woes.

The Yankees already have plenty of strength there with Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. Chapman, acquired by trade in the off-season from the Reds, will give the Yankees the most formidable bullpen trio since Cincinnati’s legendary “Nasty Boys” — Randy Myers, Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton — for Lou Piniella’s 1990 World Series champions.

What remains at question is how often the Yankees can give these three relievers leads to protect. The bats went silent again Sunday night as they were tamed by knuckleballer Steven Wright, who came within one out of a shutout ruined by Brett Gardner’s third home run of the season. It was one of only three hits by the Yanks, whose hopes of sweeping the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium were dashed in Boston’s 5-1 victory.

Luis Severino’s record fell to 0-5, although manager Joe Girardi expressed encouragement that the second-year righthander is turning the corner. Severino was clocked for three home runs — two by David Ortiz — but he had nine strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. The Red Sox added a fourth home run in the eighth as Xander Bogaerts took Chasen Shreve deep. The way Wright pitched, Severino’s fate was sealed In the first inning when he walked leadoff batter Mookie Betts and gave up a home run to Dustin Pedroia in the first row of the right field stands.

Big Papi, on the other hand, launched a pair of bombs that were milestones in a career he plans to conclude at the end of this season, a decision that looks awfully premature considering the way he is swinging the bat. Ortiz pushed his career home run total to 512, passing Mel Ott on the career list and tying Ernie Banks and Eddie Mathews, three Hall of Fame sluggers. Of that total, 454 have come with the Red Sox, the second most in club history behind only Ted Williams, whose career total of 521 were all hit for Boston.

Ortiz has just been taking batting practice against the Yankees this season. In six games against them, Big Papi is batting .364 with five home runs and seven RBI in 22 at-bats. The Stadium crowd let him have it with the boos for his embarrassing tirade against umpire Ron Kulpa Friday night, but he pretty much quieted everybody with the pair of massive shots off Severino.

The Yankees had one hit over the first six innings against Wright, 30, a journeyman who has restarted his career with the knuckleball. They did not have a runner in scoring position until the seventh when Starlin Castro led off with a double to right. He crossed to third on a flyout but was thrown out trying to get back to the bag after deciding against trying to score on a pitch in the dirt. Castro, who was picked off second base four games ago, hurt a rib on the play and was pinch-hit for in the ninth, but Girardi said he did not consider the injury serious and expected Castro to play Monday night when the World Series champion Royals open a four-game set at the Stadium.

Chapman will be there, too. Can the Yankees give him reason to get into the game. Yankees fans can only hope so.

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