To this point in the season, starting pitching has been the only question mark about the reigning A.L. champion Royals. If they can continue to get starts like the ones Edinson Volquez has provided more often than not, they're going to be just fine.
Volquez dominated the Yankees, the bullpen did their thing, and the offense plated more than enough runs to give Kansas City a 6-0 victory on Sunday afternoon. Dressed in throwback Kansas City Monarchs uniforms as a salute to the Negro Leagues, the Royals put forth a clean game of run production, terrific pitching, and dazzling defense. The Yankees, who arrogantly declined the opportunity to wear throwbacks because they "don't do that", lost for the fifth time in their last six games.
With one out in the second, Salavador Perez reached for a hanging breaking ball and lifted it just over the left field bullpen wall. It was Perez' fifth home run of the year, putting him second on the team behind Eric Hosmer's seven big flies. After being held down in the third inning, Kansas City knocked Yankees starter Chris Capuano from the game when the first four Royals reached in the fourth. Consecutive walks to Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer brought up Kendrys Morales, who smashed a run-plating single into right to double the team's lead. Morales' 30th RBI of the year tied him with Nelson Cruz and Stephen Vogt atop the American League.
Kansas City wasn't done there. Perez then pulled a hard-hit single into left field to make it 3-0, and that's when manager Joe Giardi pulled Capuano from the game. Reliever Esmil Rogers took Capuano's place but gave up a double to Omar Infante to stretch the game to 4-0, and the Royals would get two additional runs in the sixth inning on a Paulo Orlando double and an Alcides Escobar sacrifice fly.
Capuano (0-1) was making his season debut for the Yankees. He recorded just nine outs, registering three-plus innings and surrendering four hits, two walks, and four runs. He did manage to strike out four hitters, but other than that, there wasn't much to be positive about.
For as bad as Capuano was, Edinson Volquez (3-3) just as terrific for the Royals. After laboring through command issues in his last two starts, he stifled the Yankees all afternoon, holding the New York offense to just three hits over seven innings. He retired the first 11 hitters before allowing a double and a hit batter, which would be the only jam he dealt with all afternoon. He escaped by fanning Brian McCann with a high heater; in all, Volquez struck out five and walked none. He lowered his ERA to 2.74, and he threw a total of 101 pitches.
Wade Davis and Jason Frasor worked the eighth and ninth innings to nail down the win for Kansas City. The former still hasn't allowed a run in 17 innings/appearances this year. Davis' scoreless inning streak is at 27, and his consecutive scoreless appearance streak is 25. The Yankees managed to load the bases with one out, but Davis gritted down and escaped without damage despite throwing 28 pitches.
Somehow, it was the first time in 2015 that the Royals shut out their opponent, making the Rangers the lone A.L. team who hasn't accomplished that feat yet this year. In all, Kansas City held a Yankees team that was sixth in baseball in runs scored to just six runs over a three-game span.
The Royals improved to 9-3 in day games in 2015. They earned their third straight series victory over the Yankees, and they still have only lost one series thus far all season. Kansas City is now 24-14 on the year, temporarily earning a half-game advantage on the Tigers, who don't play until tonight. Detroit will look to sweep a series with the St. Louis Cardinals in a matchup of two poisons for Royals fans. Best of all, the Royals returned to a season-best 10 games over .500.
Up next: Kansas City is off tomorrow and will continue the homestand on Tuesday with its first interleague series of the season. The Cincinnati Reds (18-20) will throw out ace Johnny Cueto (3-3, 2.93 ERA) to oppose flamethrower Yordano Ventura (2-3, 5.36). The series is only two games and is sandwiched between two off days, so Ventura will have one extra day of rest to try to get things back on track.
Oh yeah, did anybody hear FSKC say that the Royals are sixth in the American League in attendance? That's pretty remarkable. At over 31,000 fans per game, Kansas City is averaging nearly 10,000 more fans this year than they have in over a decade.