CC Sabathia ended his streak of ineffective starts in the 7–1 win over the Royals
The Yankees, who were coming off of losing three of four games at home to the Houston Astros, who have the best record in the American League, were able to win the series opener, 7–1, at Kauffman Stadium against the Royals.
The Royals won the World Series in five games against the Mets in 2015 but now find themselves with the worst record in the American League (16–22). The Yankees, who are still in first place in the AL East by half a game since the Baltimore Orioles have lost four of five, have a 23–13 record and their +59 run differential is one run better than the Astros for the best in all of baseball.
CC Sabathia and the Yankees came into Kansas City at the right time since the Royals have scored the least amount of runs in the American League and Sabathia had been struggling in his recent starts. He has now pitched in eight total games this year and in his first three starts he allowed a total of three runs in 18.1 innings but in his previous three before his gem against the Royals he allowed 18 runs in 15.2 innings.
However, against the Royals, who were coming off of a three-game sweep of the Orioles, Sabathia did not allow a run in 6.2 innings while giving up only five hits, two walks and striking out four. He lowered his ERA from 5.77 to 4.93 and had his best results since giving up only one run and three hits in 7.1 innings to the Cardinals in his third start of the season.
Sabathia is an impressive 13–5 in 21 career starts at Kauffman Stadium, which matches the record for most wins a The K by a visiting pitcher.
“I love pitching here,” Sabathia said. “It’s my favorite park.”
To go with his four strikeouts his other outs were recorded on eight ground balls and 12 fly balls. Another sign of his increased effectiveness was that he was able to pitch more than 6.0 innings (6.2) for the first time since that start against the Cardinals and only the 2nd time this season.
A positive sign is that Sabathia was able to have success with his cutter, which he admittedly had not had in recent starts. According to Jack Curry, he had only needed 63 pitches to get through the first 21 batters and got most of his outs with his slider and sinker.
Also, the 2–5 hitters in the Royals lineup - Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez — went a combined 1–12 against Sabathia. This proves that the big veteran lefty is on the right track again because unlike the rest of Kansas City’s lineup they are all having solid seasons.
“He was pretty frustrated with the way things were going,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “not pitching the way he did earlier this season. So I think this was big."
On offense, Gary Sanchez was able to give the Yankees all the runs they would need in the third inning. He slugged a 425-foot homer to center off of Jason Hammel to score Chris Carter and Brett Gardner. Sanchez went 2–4 to raise his average from .260 to .278.
The powerful catcher has hit well at the plate since returning from the disabled list. He is 12–30 (.400) with two homers, six runs scored and eight RBI. He has started to show signs of being the hitter he was last season as he had an average of .150 when he was put on the DL but after nine games his average is all the way up to .278.
Another positive from this game was the play of Carter, who has been getting everyday at-bats with Greg Bird on the DL. The 6–4, 245 pound lefty was 3–4 with a homer, two runs scored and two RBI. This production somewhat came out of nowhere as he had three hits in this game after having two total hits in his previous 20 at-bats.
However, more everyday at-bats like he will continue to get for at least the next two weeks could lead to more sustained success and at least more home runs, which is what he is known for. In the fourth inning, Carer hit a 414-foot blast to center to score Didi Gregorius and give the Yankees a 5–0 lead. The Yankees would score five runs on nine hits off of Hammel.
Later in the game, Jacoby Ellsbury would add an RBI single and Matt Holliday chipped in with an RBI fielder’s choice to score Gregorius for the seventh run. Sanchez, Carter, Gregorius, Starlin Castro and Aaron Judge all had multi-hit games, which lead to the offense tallying 13 total hits.
The Yankees still lead the American League in runs scored, homers, on-base percentage and slugging percentage and are second in RBI and batting average. They are third in the league in ERA and second in batting average against (.233).
Michael Pineda will get the start for the Yankees in Game 2 of the series. He has somewhat surprisingly been the team’s best overall starter this season as he has a 3.27 ERA after only allowing three runs or more in three of his seven starts. He is always had great stuff but he is now starting to be much more consistent than in previous seasons.