Sometimes, baseball is cruel. Tonight was an example of that.
Edinson Volquez, who was identified as the worst starter in the Royals rotation this week by Royals Review, began the night by putting runners on the corners with nobody out. He managed to escape the inning without allowing any runs, but he wouldn't be so fortunate in the second. New York rookie slugger Aaron Judge whacked a two-run home run into the Sonic Slam seats when Volquez fell behind in the count. After a walk to Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury smacked an RBI double into the left-field corner. 3-0, New York.
Things worsened for Volquez in the third inning. The Yankees loaded the bases with nobody out, and though they extended their lead to 4-0 on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley, it could have been worse than just the one run. Still, Volquez was laboring, and after two of the first three Yankees reached to begin the fourth, Ned Yost lifted his starter from the game.
Volquez final line: 3.1 innings, nine hits, four runs, two walks, and five strikeouts. He allowed more baseunners (11) than he had outs recorded (10). His ERA climbed back over the 5.00 mark. Simply put, Volquez has been terrible since April ended, and he's the weak link in the Royals rotation right now.
A terrific showing from the Kansas City bullpen kept the team in the game. Brian Flynn retired all five hitters he faced to get the team through the fifth inning. Meanwhile, the Royals began to chip away in the home half of the fourth. Against New York ace Masahiro Tanaka, whom the Royals got to for six runs back in May, Jarrod Dyson ended a lengthly scoreless streak by the pitcher by hammering an RBI triple into right-center field. In the fifth, Kendrys Morales got Kansas City one run closer when he hit his 21st home run of the season, a line drive shot into the visitor's bullpen.
That's when the rain hit. A delay that lasted nearly an hour knocked Tanaka from the game. When play resumed, the Yankees put runners on second and third with nobody out against Chien Ming Wang, but they were unable to score, fumbling yet another opportunity to put the game away.
In the bottom half of the sixth inning, the Royals got closer when Dyson reached on an infield single, and Lorenzo Cain lined an RBI double into the right-field corner. He advanced to third with one out, but Salvador Perez hit into an inning-ending double play to prevent Kansas City from tying the game. Alex Gordon led off the seventh with a leadoff walk, but he was ultimately stranded.
The next inning, the Royals were once again handed a free baserunner to open an inning when Cain worked a walk. He stole second base on flame-throwing Dellin Betances, and the throw rolled into center field, allowing Cain to advance to third with nobody out. After an Eric Hosmer groundout, Kendrys Morales tied the game by hitting a deep sacrifice fly into center field. 4-4.
Wang worked two innings of relief. Peter Moylan and Matt Strahm combined to throw a scoreless eighth. Strahm returned for the ninth, and after allowing a heart-stopping, very deep flyout to Gary Sanchez, finished off a perfect inning. Betances got the Yankees through the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
Speaking of Matt Strahm, how good was he in August? Pretty good.
If that is Matt Strahm's last appearance of August, he's finish the month with this line: 14 1/3 innings, 0.00 ERA, 5 hits, 19 K, 3 BB,— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) August 31, 2016
Joakim Soria took the ball to pitch the 10th inning. The first two Yankees reached. The next two struck out. Gardner walked. Then, Ellsbury hit a grounder back up the middle. It clanged off Soria and rolled towards third base, but with the speed of the runner, there was no play. 5-4, Yankees.
In the bottom half of the 10th, Raul Mondesi fell behind in the count with two strikes, but he was hit on the foot by a pitch. He then stole second base. Dyson lined a single back up the middle, advancing Mondesi to third. Then, Dyson stole second base. Suddenly, the Royals had the tying run at third and the winning run at second with nobody out.
Cain came up and, after a lengthy at bat, struck out. Hosmer was intentionally walked. Up came Morales with the bases loaded and one out. He struck out on three pitches. Then, Perez hit a flyout to end the game.
It was a perfect summary of Joakim Soria's season. Some bad pitches, some weak contact, some bad luck, and bad results. He took the loss, dropping him to 4-6.
The Yankees finished 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position, but the second of the two hits was the difference in the contest.
Betances (3-4) got the win, while Chasen Shreve earned his first career save.
Tomorrow: Kansas City can still win its eighth straight series with a win tomorrow night. Ian Kennedy will oppose Luis Cessa.