Given the state of the two teams, the match-up between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees that took place on Monday afternoon seemed criminally unfair. The Royals have emphatically been the best team in the major leagues to this point in the season while the Yankees have been reeling of late and have been giving off the stench of mediocrity for most of the month of May. Lambs led to the slaughter are given more of a chance than the Yankees seemingly were when they took the field against the Royals. But a funny thing happened on the way to the inevitable loss for the Yankees. Instead of surrendering to the superior capabilities of the Royals, the Yankees did to the Royals what the Royals were supposed to do to them as they completely dismantled the Royals in a commanding 14-1 win for their second win in the last 12 contests.
Officially, the stated length for a professional baseball contest is nine innings — in the event of inclement weather, making it through five innings will do just fine — but not every game requires nine innings in order to determine a victor. Monday’s affair between the Yankees and the Royals was just such an exception as the Yankees had wrapped up the win by the end of the first inning, rendering the rest of the game nothing more than a drawn-out formality. What the Yankees hitters managed to accomplish in just one inning would have been an extraordinary feat for any club, but considering how mightily the Yankees have struggled in recent memory, their accomplishments were nothing short of miraculous.
Showing a devil-may-care attitude towards the feelings and ego of Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, the Yankees hitters took out all their pent-up frustrations and unleashed them on the unsuspecting hurler as they ran the risk of completely shattering his confidence. In the first inning, the Yankees sent 13 men to the batter’s box and got more than their money’s worth out of those 13 plate appearances. Out of those plate appearances, 10 of the hitters ended up on base as the Yankees collected seven hits — three of which were home runs that accounted for the eight runs that the Yankees scored during the frame — in addition to drawing two walks and having one batter hit by a pitch. It was an inning filled with valuable contributions, but it was Chase Headley’s two-run home run that started off the scoring for the Yankees that was the most valuable hit of the inning.
By the end of the first inning, the Yankees held a win probability of 97.9 percent, but they were not done abusing the pitching of Guthrie in order to further solidify their stranglehold on the proceedings. The second inning saw the Royals tack on three more runs courtesy of a three-run home run by Stephen Drew. The Yankees would earn their 12th run of the game in the fifth inning when Chase Headley drove in Brett Gardner with a double, and their final two runs were added in the seventh inning when Zachary Heathcott tagged a pitch and sent it over the fences for a two-run home run.
With the Yankees holding their personal home run derby, they mostly rendered the pitching performance of starter Nathan Eovaldi an afterthought. Spoiled by so much run support, there was really no need for Eovaldi to experience much pressure during his outing and perhaps that helped him during his start because he delivered a pretty terrific — if somewhat fortunate — performance. During his 7.0 innings, Eovaldi was able to protect the Yankees bullpen by severely limiting the performance of the Royals hitters. He did allow 10 Royals base runners to make it on base and only struck out 4 of the 30 batters he faced, but he was able to rally time and time again as he posted a left on-base percentage of 90.0 percent, conceding just one run for the day.He was still inconsistent in his start, but not to a harmful degree.
One would like to believe that what the Yankees achieved on Monday will carry over to their next few games, but it is pretty difficult to make that case. Their performance during the game was so singularly spectacular and out-of-character for the club that it might have just been a rare, unsustainable occurrence. Only time will tell if the Yankees will use Monday’s contest as a springboard to attaining their previous heights or if the game will just be a blip in their otherwise sadly disappointing season.