KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A perfect Yankees’ road trip was still in play, revived by a last-minute rally and Nestor Cortes Jr.’s clutch relief.But a degree of Royals’ home field advantage worked against the Yanks.In Sunday's 10th inning a Whit Merrifield hard grounder ate up Gio Ushela, getting past the slick-fielding third baseman at Kauffman Stadium.That allowed Billy Hamilton to race home from second base for an 8-7 Royals victory, snapping the Yankees' seven-game winning streak.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone talks about the hit that wins the game for the Royals on Sunday. Pete Caldera, Staff Writer, @pcaldera
"Great effort by the guys, unfortunately we came up short,'' said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, whose club arrives home with a two-game AL East lead on Memorial Day.An ex-third baseman who has played on this field, Boone spoke of the dried-out, late game conditions at Kauffman, and Merrifield’s ball – hit off Jonathan Holder - had enough topspin to get past a plus defender.“Definitely a hard play,’’ Urshela said. “Your instinct is just to get a glove on it.’’Following a day-night doubleheader victory on Saturday, Cortes Jr. saved the bullpen in delivering four scoreless relief innings, including getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth.
“I don’t think that ever goes away,’’ Cortes Jr. said of the jitters he felt, though his strategy of “attacking the zone’’ provided a big confidence-building day for the lefty.Boone's club tied it with three in the ninth off ex-Yankee Ian Kennedy, with DJ LeMahieu’s two-out, RBI single followed by a game-tying, two-run single by Aaron Hicks.Cortes Jr. delivered four scoreless innings in relief of Domingo German to keep the Yanks afloat."We've got a really good team, we have a chance to have a special team,'' Boone said. "It's really early in the season; we've just got to keep moving on and playing good baseball.''
Not his dayAnd for a change, this wasn’t German’s day.Bitten by the long ball on Sunday afternoon, the Yankees starter yielded a season-high seven."Definitely a bad day for me,'' German said through an interpreter, missing location and lacking command from the second inning on. "Not able to execute my pitches the way I wanted.''
The Royals (18-34) belted four home runs off German and ultimately denied the Yankees (34-18) a chance at a perfect 7-0 road trip.Leading the majors in wins entering Sunday, German lasted just five innings and surrendered all four home runs with two men out.German came into the game having yielded just five home runs over his first nine starts (10 appearances), totaling 55.1 innings.Martin Maldonado’s three-run homer gave Kansas City a 3-1 lead in the second inning. It was just the second homer of the year in 123 at-bats by the .197-hitting catcher."Mad at myself,'' German said of that hanger to Maldonado.Ryan O’Hearn snapped a personal 0-for-15 slide with his fourth-inning solo shot.In the fifth, Hunter Dozier’s two-run blast was immediately followed by Jorge Soler’s titanic drive over the fountains in left field for a 7-1 lead.Gleyber Torres hit a three-run homer in the sixth, cutting the lead to 7-4 off lefty starter Danny Duffy, charged with one earned run over six innings.
Shaky playClint Frazier’s less-than-stellar outfield work continued Sunday, dropping Whit Merrifield’s one-out fly ball to right for a two-base error.German pitched around the gaffe, but it didn’t erase a rough defensive weekend for Frazier.
In Saturday’s nightcap of a day-night doubleheader, Frazier and center fielder Brett Gardner both lost Dozier’s routine fly ball, which dropped for a double.Soler followed with an RBI double on a ball toward the right field corner that saw Frazier make an awkward attempt at a catchable fly.Last year in spring training, Frazier suffered a concussion by crashing into a low outfield fence, a play that wound up derailing his entire 2018 season.Overall, Boone feels as if Frazier has “been playing pretty aggressive’’ in right field and not shying from the wall, while acknowledging it’s something that could be in the back of any outfielder’s mind.Boone viewed Saturday’s play as “a ball that sliced on’’ Frazier “more than he anticipated,’’ causing him to drift toward it.Frazier wound up contacting the wall as he fell but checked out OK.