First inning outburst holds up as Royals rally falls short
The Yankees came very close Sunday to making their three game series with Kansas City a complete disaster. After losing on Friday and winning in a blowout on Saturday, Sunday's early innings appeared to indicated a repeat of Saturday was at hand. But the Yankee bats fell silent and the Royals rallied before Mariano Rivera finally closed out a 6-5 victory.
Starter Jaret Wright showed no ill effects of his groin injury, but struggled with his control throughout the day. He had an excellent fastball, but didn't always know where it was going. Luckily for him the Yankee hitters knew exactly where Royals starter Runelvys Hernandez was throwing.
Hernandez listed as 6'1", 250 pounds, but is probably a good 25 pounds more than that, couldn't make it out of the first inning. Johnny Damon led off the ball game with his 6th home run of the season into the old Yankees bullpen in right-center. It was Damon's second lead off HR of the season. Derek Jeter and Gary Sheffield followed with singles before Jason Giambi doubled to right to score Jeter and move Sheff to third. Alex Rodriguez then blooped a single into right to drive in two and put the Yankees on top 4-0. Hernandez (1-4) finally got Robinson Cano to bounce into a double play for the first two outs of the inning, but then walked Melky Cabrera. With Cabrera running at the crack of the bat, Terrance Long singled into the right field corner. Seeing the throw from Reggie Sanders head towards second, third base coach Larry Bowa aggressively waived Cabrera home. Cabrera, who never slowed down, slid across home plate just ahead of the relay from Angel Berroa for the 5th run of the inning. It also drove Hernandez from the ball game after just 2/3 of an inning.
Cano's sacrifice fly in the 2nd brought home what proved to be the Yankees last run of the game. The Royals then mounted their comeback, chipping away against Wright (3-3) and the suddenly ineffective Scott Proctor. Matt Stairs, Mark Grudzielanek, and Berroa knocked in single runs in the 4th, 5th, and 6th innings to cut the lead to 6-3 and chase Wright from the game.
After an incredible hot streak, Scott Proctor has gone back to looking like the Proctor of old. After allowing an inherited runner to score in the 6th, Proctor was charged with two of his own. After retiring the first two hitters in the 7th, Proctor gave up back-to-back doubles to Doug Mientkiewicz and Sanders to cut the margin to 6-4. Joe Torre signaled for lefty specialist Mike Myers to face Matt Stairs, but Buddy Bell countered with pinch-hitter Estaban German. Myers walked him to put the tying runs on base, forcing Torre to call for Kyle Farnsworth to face Emil Brown. Farnsworth repeated a pattern we've seen too often this season. He fired upper 90s fastballs past Brown and then hung a 75 mph slider in the strike zone. Brown ripped it through the left side to score Sanders to make it a 1-run ball game. Farnsworth finally put out the fire by retiring Tony Graffanino on a fly out to left.
Farnsworth pitched an uneventful 8th before Mariano Rivera breezed through a 1-2-3 9th for his 11th save of the season.
The Yankees had no hits over the final three innings.
Scott Proctor is headed back to the drawing board after allowing 8 runs in 3 2-3 innings over his last 4 appearances.
Jaret Wright has really bolstered the Yankees rotation over his last 4 starts. Though Joe Torre and Ron Guidry would like to see more innings out of him, Wright is 3-1, 3.32 in those 4 starts.