The New York Yankees laughed in the face of regression on Tuesday, picking up right where they had left off after Monday’s contest wrapped up and pulling off their second straight upset victory over the Kansas City Royals, this time triumphing by the score of 5-1. The final winning margin was not quite as emphatic as their blowout win on Monday, but it was a victory that performed the same feat as Monday’s; it shook the baseball world up again. Although the Yankees have since decided to go off-script, their three-game series against the Royals this week was supposed to be a further humbling of the team and a not-so-gentle reminder of all of their shortcomings. Instead, it has been a revelation for the Yankees as they are playing well enough to make one recall that not too long ago they were one of the better teams in the major leagues. Just when one thought it was safe to write off the Yankees, they seem to be back in fine form.
Making it clear that Monday’s efforts were not quite so unsustainable as they appeared at first blush, the Yankees continued their prolific hitting ways in the first inning of the contest. After the first two Yankees batters were struck out by Royals starter Jason Vargas, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira collaborated to get the offense going with Rodriguez drawing a walk and then Teixeira driving in the both of them with a home run blast, giving the Yankees an early 2-0 lead. It was a lead they would never look back from because they were never truly challenged in the contest; at no point after the first Royals batter of the evening was retired did the Yankees hold a win probability lower than 51.0 percent.
The Yankees offense would add some security runs in the fifth inning against Royals reliever Joe Blanton, who was clearly overmatched during the first of his two innings on the mound. During the fifth inning, still holding onto a 2-0 advantage, the Yankees hitters got four productive plate appearances in a row — two singles, a double that drove in two runs, and a sacrifice fly — in order to increase their edge to an insurmountable 5-0 lead. Where before the Yankees were merely heading towards a victory before the fifth inning commenced, by the end of the fifth inning, the Yankees had arrived at their destination of earning their second straight victory.
Offense certainly played an integral role in the Yankees securing the victory, but one would be remiss to not acknowledge just why it was that the Yankees never looked back after scoring those two runs in the first inning. And that reason was starter Adam Warren, who delivered one of his best performances of the season on Tuesday. The Royals possess a legitimate powerhouse offense, but Warren made the Royals hitters look particularly feeble. In his 6.3 excellently pitched innings, Warren only allowed two base runners, both of whom earned their way on base by collecting hits. One of those hits was a solo home run by Paulo Orlando in the sixth inning, which accounted for the Royals’ lone run, but that was an aberration for Warren in what was an incredible display of pitching. For his efforts, Warren posted a .257 win probability added.
It will not get any better for the Yankees than it has been over their past two games. They have gotten fantastic pitching out of their rotation and the offense has shown encouraging signs of breaking out of the slump they had been mired in for what seemed like time everlasting. And thanks to their recent two-game winning streak coupled with the absolutely putrid play of the American League East division in general, the Yankees have managed to reclaim their spot on top of the division.