There’s is still time before the playoffs begin, but the New York Yankees are grabbing a hold of their last opportunity to catch the train, picking up a fifth consecutive win as they beat the Kansas City Royals 8-1 thanks to an excellent pitching performance by Michael Pineda and a great day at bat for Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Yankees are pretty much identical to where they were last season at this stage. They finished the year at 85-77, missing the playoffs. They’re still slightly out of the picture, finding themselves six games behind the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East and 2.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners in the Wild Card standings. At this pace, if they can keep it up through the last 32 games of the season, they’ll make it in.
The Royals have also been one of baseball’s hottest teams, taking over the lead in the AL Central. However, maybe they’ve reached a halt, finding it very difficult to tag Michael Pineda who was on the mound for 6.1 innings, allowing five hits, just one run and striking out five in the process while walking no one. James Shields was far less successful, giving up 10 hits in 6.2 innings, and things didn’t improve when he went off in favor of Francisley Bueno.
Shields gave up two home runs in the game – one to Stephen Drew in the 4th inning which gave the Yankees the lead again (2-1), and then again in the 7th inning when things began to fall apart, as Martin Prado’s home run was the catalyst for the Yankees running away with the game. Ellsbury with a single, Jeter with one, Brian McCan with a sacrifice fly and then another Ellsbury big hit, a home run in the ninth off of Bueno, make it a much more demoralizing finish than anyone expected.
Derek Jeter finished with just 1-for-5 when at the plate but he did finish with 2 RBIs, putting the Yankees on the board in the third inning as he grounded out. Ellsbury, with his single and two-run homer finished with 3 RBIs, reaching 58 this season. The Yankees don’t seem to have one big hitting go to guy which is weird considering these are the Bronx bombers, but they’ve found a way to keep the runners coming in over the last five games after a long, two-week stretch in which scoring seemed very difficult.
The Royals were only 7-of-33 at the plate, not getting any help from David Huff who put in a solid 2.2 innings as relief, allowing just two hits. Despite this stumbling block, the lead in the AL Central is still theirs. For the Yankees, it’s still an uphill battle, although there seems to be less of a desperation sense coming from the Bronx. Instead it’s more about hope and belief that his run will have a happy ending.