Striking out in his two late game plate appearances, Nunez wonders what the answer is to the offensive struggles. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals 5 — New York Yankees 1
Lackluster lineup struggled in tonight’s 5-1 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
The Yankees turned to Phil Hughes to open the series. After a quick and easy first inning, the “2012 Home Run Derby snub” Billy Butler showed what he’s capable of. On the second pitch of the second inning, Billy Butler went deep the opposite way to the short porch to give the Royals the lead. A pair of doubles would bring home the Royals’ second run of the game.
Two runs is usually not bad. Usually.
To give you an idea of what the lineup featured, three starting position players finished the night batting under .200 and one finished decimal points north of .200. One of those position players under .200 (Luis Cruz) actually got two hits in four at-bats and raised his average. “Lackluster” was being generous with this lineup tonight.
Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie gave up six hits in tonight’s game. Five of these hits were singles scattered throughout the 6.2 innings that Guthrie pitched. From the first inning until the sixth inning, the Yankees never had more than one base runner. It is hard to score when you don’t get any base runners.
The Yankees offense did get a small jolt of life when Lyle Overbay stepped up in a pinch-hit role in the seventh inning. With two outs, Lyle Overbay hit his 10th home run of the season to right field for the Yankees only run of the game. The Yankees got opportunities in the eighth and ninth inning. With one out in the eighth, Zoilo Almonte singled and Robinson Cano walked but Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells couldn’t do anything with the opportunity.
After getting the last out in the eighth inning, Preston Claiborne also got the task of the ninth inning. A single and a sacrifice started the inning but a double and a triple followed, plating two more runs and gave the Royals a 5-1 lead, making the game all but over.
Yankees had a ninth inning opportunity, remember?
To start the ninth inning, a walk and a single put the potential tying run on deck. Cue closer Greg Holland’s entrance to the game. Chris Stewart would single off the closer to load the bases with no outs. The Yankees had to score, right?
Eduardo Nunez would come up…and strikeout. Brett Gardner would come up…and strikeout (for his franchise-record 16th consecutive game). Zoilo Almonte would foul off three straight but…struck out. Three consecutive strikeouts ended the game and frustrated fans with their high expectations being kicked out from under them.
Phil Hughes’ start was cut short by an hour-long rain delay. He went four innings and allowed two runs on four hits with two strikeouts.
Win – Jeremy Guthrie (8-6)
Loss – Phil Hughes (4-8)
Save – Greg Holland (21)
*David Lough – 2 for 4, R, 2B, RBI (15)
*Billy Butler – 1 for 4, R, BB, Solo Home Run (7) in the 2nd, RBI (48)
*Lyle Overbay – 1 for 1, R, BB, Solo Home Run (10) in the 7th, RBI (36)
*Vernon Wells – 2 for 4
Current Yankees Record: 48-41
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