Heading to New York to face a struggling Yankees team seemed like just the elixir the Royals would need to turn their losing ways around. Unfortunately, Chris Young had other plans. He gave up a solo home run in the first, a solo home run in the second and then three solo home runs in the third.
Alex Gordon hit a solo home run of his own in the second, but as has happened far too often over the last 13 games, it just wasn’t enough.
Dillon Gee came in to relieve Young in the bottom of the third and pitched very well, but it also wasn’t enough as the Royals offense went mostly into hibernation after finding themselves down by so much after three.
A late Hosmer home run after an insurance run by the Yankees made the score 6-2, and a two-out rally against Aroldis Chapman brought the Royals to within 6-3, which was ultimately the final score.
Today wasn’t about the offense, though. It was about another poor start, which the Royals will have to figure out a solution for soon because…
THE BULLPEN NEEDS A BREAK
Nobody in the Royals bullpen is especially overworked, but another short outing from a Royals starter meant far more work for guys who didn’t start the game. The Royals rotation is currently averaging just 5.1 innings pitched per start.
That works out to 864 innings over the course of a full season. That’s not good. Only eight teams since 2000 have gotten less innings from their starters than the 864 the Royals are on pace to get.
Too many walks have plagued the rotation and are a big part of their low innings. Chris Young hasn’t had that problem, but…
HOME RUNS HAVE KILLED HIM
Coming into the game, Young had allowed an absurd eight home runs in just 29.2 innings. That works out to 2.4 home runs per nine innings. That’s a lot.
You already know what happened in this game, but why not go over it again. He gave up five in this one, all to lefties, which means he’s now given up nine of his league leading 13 home runs allowed to left-handed batters. He’s now up to 3.6 home runs per nine innings.
Was this predictable? Probably so. A fly ball pitcher in a small park like Yankee Stadium sure did some somewhat inevitable to allow more than a couple home runs, but he did hold the Yankees to two long balls in a game there last season, so manager Ned Yost had some hope that Young could at least keep the Royals in the game.
He, of course, didn’t, and now there are questions to be asked about his spot in the rotation. Luckily (sort of) for the Royals…
DILLON GEE KEPT THINGS IN CHECK
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers of a game. Sometimes a hitter can go 0 for 5 and you’re down on him without realizing that he hit five bullets right at a defender. And sometimes, a relief pitcher can come in a game in the third inning and show a totally different look from the starter. A lot of times, the “garbage time” innings can look better than they really were.
But you can also only talk about what happened, and Gee gave the Royals some much needed innings while quieting the booming Yankees home run bats. Gee went 5.1 innings, gave up just one run and dropped his season ERA down to 2.61. He topped his previous season high for pitches thrown by throwing 68 in this one. He might be ready for the rotation to take over for one of the struggling starters.
The thing is, though, that none of it matters if…
THE OFFENSE STAYS COLD
It sure looked like they were starting to turn things around in the final two games of the Indians series. Scoring 11 runs in those last two games looked an awful lot like the Royals of last year. They started off looking decent in this one with a single from Lorenzo Cain in the first and a home run from Gordon in the second, but it was mostly more of the same after that.
The Royals threatened in the fifth inning with a single and an error that led to Eric Hosmer coming to the plate, but he flew out to left to end the inning, and that was that.
They had two runners on again in the sixth, but couldn’t plate either of them as Cheslor Cuthbert ended the inning by striking out.
You might find encouragement in the final two innings, which featured a long home run from Eric Hosmer to make the score 6-2 and a couple hits off Chapman to push the final score to a more respectable 6-3. Still, it was a game of struggles for the offense.
Now the Royals just need to…
TURN THE PAGE
The beauty of baseball is that you get right back to it the next day, and that’s just what they’ll do as they take on the Yankees Tuesday night at 6:05 central time. It’ll be another struggling starter going for the Royals against the Yankees ace, Masahiro Tanaka. The task is tall, but the Royals are now looking to get back to .500 for the first time since July of 2014.
Tuesday’s game will air on Fox Sports Kansas City in the local viewing area and MLB Network for those out of market.