In a way, if you watched this game, I’m sorry. Yankees games run notoriously long because it seems other teams can never figure out how to throw strikes to them. Compounding that problem was the fact that the Yankees themselves couldn’t throw strikes either.
Four and a half hours after first pitch, the Royals had won 4-3 in 11 innings.
The key factor in the game was the play of the team’s rookies and some timely outs.
Honestly, the Royals shouldn’t have been in this game. And yet…
Vin Mazzaro‘s first start as a Royal didn’t start out very well. He threw 21 pitches, walked two, and were it not for a double play started by Alcides Escobar, he’d have thrown a lot more in the first. He started the second inning by giving up two hits and finished the inning with 24 pitches. In the third, he threw 30 pitches. He ended the game with 94 pitches in just four innings and didn’t come back out for the fifth.
Despite giving up six hits and walking four, he only gave up two runs. Very un-Yankee-like.
Nate Adcock, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Louis Coleman – all rookies – combined for six scoreless innings. The only other run surrendered was charged to Joakim Soria, who walked Russell Martin to lead off the ninth and he came around to score on a soft flare by Curtis Granderson.
The Royals got four hits, but walked 11 times. Two of their runs were scored by batters who’d walked to lead off an inning. Melky Cabrera walked to lead off the tenth but was forced out on a grounder by Eric Hosmer, who scored on Jeff Francoeur‘s double. The only non-walk related run came from Hosmer’s first career homer, a no-doubt shot to the second deck in right field.
He also drove in the winning run, hitting a sacrifice fly to center after the Yankees walked Cabrera to load the bases with one out. Chris Getz scored.
Ned Yost used an odd lineup, giving Alex Gordon the night off, keeping Mike Aviles on the bench in favor of Getz and placing Hosmer in the third spot in just his fifth career game. Regardless, it worked. Barely. They had three times as many strike outs as hits and were fortunate to get away. The Yankees stranded 15 runners and reached base in every inning (except one).
Louis Coleman came in to close the game out and worked a perfect 11th, getting a fly out from Alex Rodriguez before striking out Eduardo Nunez and Nick Swisher to end the game. Soria had started the ninth by throwing six balls right away and hung a curve to Granderson. Coleman was aggressive, fearless and filthy.
All the rookies who got in stepped up. Nate Adcock worked 1.2 scoreless. Aaron Crow had three scoreless and Collins got a key pop out to retire Granderson and stranded two runners in the sixth.
The Royals have to make a choice between Getz and Aviles, though. Tonight, Getz led off in the seventh and ninth, and with Escobar and Dyson behind him, the trio went in order both times. In the eleventh, Getz led off with the walk and went to second on an Escobar sacrifice and yes, he scored, but he’s nearly an automatic out. Escobar can get away with that because he’s the best defensive player on the team – Getz can’t. He missed a line drive on a mistimed jump and was lucky to get the benefit of the doubt on a potential double play. He lost the ball in the transfer according to the umpire, but it looked like he just dropped the throw from Escobar.
But that’s a rant for another day.
Billy Butler is in a funk. he was 0-2 in the game and walked twice, but flew out in his other two appearances. He has two hits in the last week. He’ll get back in gear, and he’s walking anyway, but as long as he’s mired in the slump, the Royals offense will have to pick it up around him.
Eric Hosmer will help, but hopefully they didn’t use up all there scoring magic in April.
Tomorrow, Sean O’Sullivan (1-2, 3.41) takes on Ivan Nova (3-2, 4.08). O’Sullivan has allowed just six earned runs in his four starts in 2011 covering 25 innings. He’s been surprisingly effective. The Royals get a chance to take a road series against the Yankees. That hasn’t happened since August 1999 after solid pitching from Blake Stein and Dan Reichert (1 ER in 15 innings).