Entering action tonight, the New York Yankees were a woeful seven games under .500 and firmly entrenched in last place in the otherwise competitive American League East. As a team they had totaled a scant 25 home runs with only the World Champion Kansas City Royals, Dodgers, and hilarious Braves (7?!) amassing fewer home runs.
The game was at Yankee Stadium.
Chris Young pitched today.
By the end of the third inning, the Yankees had ten teams below them on the team home run leader board.
At that juncture, the Royals trailed 5 - 1. All six of the runs scored by either team in these first three frames came by way of the home run. All solo shots. If you did that rudimentary math in your head, that is a shocking five solo shots in the first three innings hit by a power-starved Yankees' lineup. In three innings, they hit one-fifth of the total of home runs that it took them 29 games to total. They spent more than a month wandering through the desert, and they found a bountiful oasis taking the form of Chris Young.
A home run or two were of the moderately cheap variety. Others? Not so much.
So who hung dong off Young? Brian McCann? Ugh, yes, and then he made sure that no one had any fun anywhere. Brett Gardner? Yeah, he hit one, though he dived into first base to ensure that he reached base safely because that's the kind of gamer he is. Aaron Hicks? Totally. Carlos Beltran? Hell, he hit two as if he was pissed at the Royals for not offering him enough money to entice him to sign in Kansas City resulting in him not getting a ring last year.
Alex Gordon hit one. It was pretty cool, and that majestic GorDONG tied the game.
The tie lasted until Chris Young was able to unleash not one but two pitches in the next half inning.
Though the Royals threatened to close the gap in the fifth with the tying run in the on-deck circle, Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer both failed to deliver. Jarrod Dyson and Alcides Escobar stood with their fleet feet on third and first, praying to a number of deities to cross the plate, but their interfaith pleas were ignored by the fickle gods to whom they begged.
Eric Hosmer crushed a solo shot to right-center to lead off the eighth inning. This came after a home-half of the seventh in which the Yankees tacked on an extra run, so it cut the Yankees' lead back to four at 6 - 2 those guys.
The Gordon and Hosmer dongs were basically the only Royals' highlights, unless one counts Mark Teixeira pouting after having been called out at first upon review after Hosmer was pulled off the bag by an errant Omar Infante throw but swiped his glove across Teixeira's elbow a fraction of a second on a single-saving tag play that got the Royals out of the fifth with no further harm done. Gordon got on three times, walking, singling, and Gordonging, the latest game in an encouraging stretch indicating that his first month was just a cold stretch.
The Royals' lowlights were many. Hosmer saved Omar Infante from the aforementioned would-have-been error. Alcides Escobar misplayed two grounders that were scored as singles by the hometown official scorer, trying and failing to barehand one grounder and watching as another one took a tough bounce and glanced off his glove. It feels like Omar Infante might have misplayed another ball, but battle fatigue might be setting in with flashbacks creeping in from a weary subconscious.
Dillon Gee actually pitched quite well in relief of Young. Entering to pick up the final out of the third, the former Mets' starter went the rest of the way, only getting into real trouble in the seventh, when he allowed a pair of singles to start the inning the first of which (one of Alcides Escobar's misplays detailed above) came around to score on the sac train. If one wanted to read into the dire situation the Royals' rotation seems to be in of late, it might appear as though Gee punched his ticket back into a major-league rotation tonight.
The Yankees' new closer, fresh off a 30-day suspension for violation of Major League Baseball's Domestic Violence Policy, pitched in the ninth. The Domestic Abuser got eased back into pitching in the majors by facing Omar Infante, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Paulo Orlando, the least threatening trio of right-handed hitters the southpaw could have faced from the Royals. The Abuser of Girlfriends struck out the first two, but Orlando ripped a double over Aaron Hicks's head deep on the grass in center, and Escobar ripped a grounder past his Yankee counterpart Didi Gregorius, who basically returned the gift of a misplayed grounder and precipitated a run scored against The Beater of Women.
The loss drops the Royals below .500 for the first time in a super long time. For Royals fans these things are hard to judge, but the last time they were a sub-.500 team was in the Paleolithic Era. Or maybe it was 2014. Either way, that is an eternity to Royals fans.
To get back to .500, the Royals turn their lonely eyes to Kris Medlen, hoping against hope that he can do what a Princetonian was unable to do the night before.