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Royals fall to Yankees 7-6 in battle of bullpen blown leads

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The offense has a nice comeback, but again, that bullpen.

Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Austin Romine lofted a fly ball for a single in the tenth to give the Yankees a 7-6 win and series win. Jake Diekman began the tenth and immediately struggled with his command, walking the first two hitters. He was yanked for Ian Kennedy, who gave up a sacrifice bunt by Thairo Estrada to move the runners to second and third before giving up the fly ball to Romine.

The story early in the day was Yankees starter James Paxton, who was brilliant all day. He baffled Royals hitters, sprinkling just three hits over six shutout innings, while striking out 12. The Yankees got on the board in the first with their makeshift lineup held together by duct tape. Facing Royals starter Jorge Lopez, D.J. LeMahieu led off with a double, then advanced to third on a fly ball from Luke Voit. A sinker by Lopez crossed up Martín Maldonado and went to the backstop, allowing LeMahieu to score on a close play. Originally it was ruled a wild pitch, but the scoring later changed to a passed ball, making it an unearned run.

In the second, Lopez quickly got two outs, but Mike Ford laced his first career MLB hit for a double to left. Austin Romine dribbled one up the middle for a hit to score him and make it 2-0 Yankees. Lopez continued to struggle with his command, walking Tyler Wade and plunking LeMahieu in the back, but he escaped the inning without any further damage.

In the fifth, Lopez recorded an out, before Luke Voit and Brett Gardner hit back-to-back singles. Lopez left a fastball out over the plate for Clint Frazier, and the young outfielder blasted it over the bullpen for a huge three-run home run to make it 5-0 Yankees. Lopez had a pretty typical Jorge Lopez-type start with some really good stretches punctuated by some sloppy mistakes. He would exit after seven innings with five runs allowed (four earned), five strikeouts, and one walk.

The Royals had a scoring in the opportunity in the seventh, when Alex Gordon led off with a double, and Hunter Dozier walked, chasing off Paxton. But Jorge Soler struck out on a borderline pitch (one of five whiffs on the day for Soler - the “Platinum Sombrero”), Chris Owings flied to right, which left Lucas Duda. Duda is presumably on the roster so O’Hearn doesn’t get overexposed against lefties, because he probably isn’t here for his bat. Duda faced righty Tommy Kahnle and struck out to end the threat, dropping his batting average to .195 for the year.

Kansas City finally got on the board in the eighth and even took the lead thanks to an uncharacteristic Yankees bullpen meltdown. Maldonado dropped a perfectly placed bloop single down the right-field line, Billy Hamilton walked, and Whit Merrifield singled to load the bases off Chad Green. Adalberto Mondesi doubled off Adam Ottavino to plate two runs and put the Royals back in the game. Alex Gordon then continued his comeback story with a three-run home run, his fourth, to tie the game 5-5. The next hitter, Hunter Dozier, put the Royals in front with a monster home run, his sixth.

But the Royals’ bullpen would not be up for preserving the lead. Wily Peralta would give up a Mike Tauchman double to start th bottom of the eighth, and Austin Romine would single him home to tie the game 6-6. The Royals posed a threat in the ninth off closer Aroldis Chapman when Billy Hamilton singled, then stole second and third, but Mondesi struck out and Gordon flied to center to end the inning. An inning later, the Yankees would push ahead the winning run.

The Royals are now 2-5 on this road trip and will head to St. Petersburg to take on the Rays beginning on Monday.