Dillon Gee gave his third consecutive solid start, giving up just one run over six innings as the Royals beat the Yankees 8-5 in the series opener.
The Royals began with an aggressive plan on the bases against Yankees rookie catcher Gary Sanchez. Jarrod Dyson led off the first inning with an infield hit, then reached second on a wild pitch. Dyson ended up at third after stealing his 21st base of the year, then scored on an RBI single by Lorenzo Cain. The Royals would continue being aggressive, having Cain steal second, setting up an RBI single by Kendrys Morales.
The hit parade continued when Salvador Perez singled Morales over to second. Alex Gordon pulled a single to right field to score Morales, and the Royals had an early 3-0 lead on Yankees starter Michael Pineda. Gordon ended the inning getting thrown out by Sanchez, but the damage was done.
Dillon Gee was effective, retiring the first eight hitters he faced, and tossing scoreless innings until the fourth, when Didi Gregorious and Starlin Castro hit back-to-back doubles to make it 3-1. Gee flirted with some trouble in the fifth when Tyler Austin singled and Jacoby Ellsbury walked with two outs. But Gee induced a fly out to center by Aaron Hicks ending the threat. He had a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth and departed with a tidy 86-pitch performance, allowing just four hits and one run.
The Yankees were missing their bullpen of doom that they had traded away, and it hurt them in the seventh. Kendrys Morales and Salvador Perez led off with singles that caused Yankees skipper Joe Girardi to pull Pineda. Journeyman Blake Parker came in and gave up a three-run home run to Alcides Escobar, his second home run in a week and fourth overall.
That home run was no rally-killer though, as the Royals continued to pour it on. Raul Mondesi followed with a single, then advanced to second on Jarrod Dyson’s ground out. Cheslor Cuthbert drove him home before scoring himself on an RBI single by Eric Hosmer to make it seem like an 8-1 laugher.
Chris Young made things interesting in the eighth, giving up four runs, although only two were earned thanks to a catcher’s interference call on Drew Butera. The game crawled to a stop in the late innings as the Yankees made a run. Ned Yost was forced to go to Kelvin Herrera early for a four-out save, but Herrera was up to the task and shut the door for his 11th save of the year.
The Royals have won 18 of their last 22, and are 69-61. They are just two games out of a playoff spot. Toss out your spreadsheets, embrace the mantis, and hold onto your butts, the Royals are going on a magical ride.
American League Wild Card Standings