While their offense has improved in the past two weeks, especially with the focus and attempts at eliminating foreign substances being used by pitchers, the New York Yankees still experience difficulties hitting with runners in scoring position.
One of their worst showings in that area appeared Tuesday, and the Yankees hope they can avoid some of the same problems Wednesday night when they continue a three-game series with the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees have 63 runs and are 7-5 since the Red Sox swept them from June 4-6, and that disastrous series capped a stretch of 10 losses in 13 games. On Tuesday, the Yankees were six outs away from getting another win but wound up with a 6-5 loss when Jonathan Loaisiga allowed four runs in the eighth.
Loaisiga's meltdown occurred on a night when the Yankees went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 13 and struck out 10 times. Tuesday's inability to hit in the clutch dropped New York's average with runners in scoring position to .212 (106-for-499).
"I look at our guys and feel like whatever the landscape is, they're going to hit and they're going to hit in a big way," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "So it's hard to say if there has been a little of a tick down, which maybe it looks like there has been over the last 10 days or two weeks or whatever, and that I think is naturally going to tilt towards the hitters a little bit."
Luke Voit homered and tripled in his return from an oblique injury, but others were unable to capitalize with runners on as Giancarlo Stanton and Clint Frazier stranded six runners apiece and Gleyber Torres struck out four times and stranded three runners.
The Royals are 4-12 in their past 16 games but are coming off two of their more productive showings at the plate. After going 4-for-16 with runners in scoring position and getting 15 hits in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox, the Royals were 3-for-11 and got eight hits in their second win in 34 games when trailing after seven innings.
Ryan O'Hearn homered in the fourth and hit an RBI single in Kansas City's four-run eighth while Hunter Dozier also had an RBI single.
"Guys just working to make something happen," Royals manager Mike Matheny said. "We talked about this before, just put the ball in play, put pressure on the defense and hit it to the middle of the field and hand it to the next guy so he can do his job. I thought we had a couple of really good approaches."
Right-hander Michael King (0-3, 4.08 ERA), who is 0-2 with a 6.32 ERA as starting pitcher, will make his fifth start for the Yankees. King most recently pitched Thursday and allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Kansas City will welcome Danny Duffy (4-3, 1.94) back from the injured list for his first start since May 12. Duffy will make his 200th career start after being sidelined with a left-forearm flexor strain.
In his most recent outing at Detroit, he allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings and then was put on the injured list May 17. Instead of going on a rehab assignment, the Royals were comfortable with activating him following a two-inning simulated game last week.
Duffy is 3-3 with a 5.00 ERA in 11 career appearances (nine starts) against the Yankees.
--Field Level Media