If you told me that the Royals would hold the Yankees to three runs with Kyle Davies starting, I’d have thought that we got away with a win and probably also that I was dreaming.
Neither were the case on Tuesday.
The Royals mustered just one run on a fourth inning Melky Cabrera homer and otherwise did very little against Freddy Garcia and the Yankees bullpen. In the last three innings, the Royals struck out five times, including two consecutive caught looking by Cabrera and Alex Gordon to lead off the eighth inning.
Despite that, opportunities were there.
First, if Kyle Davies labors through five innings and only gives up three runs at Yankee Stadium, the Royals are going to have a shot. I’m not a Davies fan, and I don’t think he’ll finish the season with the team, but he’s committed himself to avoiding walks, and tonight he had only one to a patient Brett Gardner.
He cruised through the first eight batters, but the Yankees worked pitch counts of 22, 26 and 31 in his last three innings. After walking Gardner in the fifth, Derek Jeter snuck a ball past Alcides Escobar to his left (ironic that Escobar, who might have the best range at shortstop in baseball, couldn’t get to a Derek Jeter grounder). After a Curtis Granderson fly out, Davies went to 0-2 on Mark Teixeira with two outs.
Then he lost him, hitting him on the knee and loading the bases for Alex Rodriguez, who also snuck a ground ball past Escobar to score Jeter and Gardner. And inch closer and he gets an out and the game remains tied.
Matt Treanor led off the second with a single, but got caught stealing/advanced on a balk/got caught stealing again. It was an odd play where Treanor took off very early, Garcia reacted to his teammates yelling and stepped off, wheeled to first and stopped, turned and threw to second. As the play continued, the umpires called it a balk. Then they met up and called it an out again. Chris Getz singled in the same inning, then tried to take second on a ball in the dirt. Russell Martin got to it, threw and nailed him.
In the fifth, Mike Aviles singled and went to second when Treanor did the same. Escobar struck out and Getz hit a line drive to right field, but Nick Swisher made a diving catch to end the inning. Again, an inch difference gets Aviles in at least and has a good chance to be a triple.
True to the pattern, the Royals still made it interesting against the Yankees bullpen. Eric Hosmer worked a walk after a Jeff Francoeur single, but David Robertson came on to retire Aviles, then struck out Escobar and Getz after a Treanor walk. In the ninth, Francoeur led off against Mariano Rivera with a single and Hosmer came ot the plate. After working the count to 3-0, Rivera came back to strike him out on a big swing. Aviles hit a sharp grounder up the middle, but Rivera snagged it and started a 1-6-3 double play.
Gordon and Billy Butler went a combined 0-8, though Butler hit the ball hard twice but right at Jeter and Robinson Cano. Gordon struck out looking in the first and eighth innings, then hit lazy fly balls early in the count in his other two at bats.
It just didn’t click for the offense. They went 0-7 with runners in scoring position.
Tim Collins worked two innings and struck out three, allowing no baserunners. So there’s that.