Royals look to continue power surge vs. Yankees (May 24, 2017)
NEW YORK — Home runs and the Royals don’t necessarily go together based on past seasons, but this season, Kansas City is putting pitches over the fence more frequently.
After tying a season high with four home runs, the Royals are up to 13 homers through the first half of a 10-game road trip. They look to add to that figure Wednesday night in the third game of a four-game series with the New York Yankees.
Kansas City (19-26) has 52 homers, which is 16 fewer than the Yankees. The Royals are on a pace to get 187, which would shatter the mark set by the 1987 team that was led by Danny Tartabull’s 34.
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Still, it isn’t adding up to consistent wins. The 6-2 victory Tuesday at Yankee Stadium was only Kansas City’s third in the past eight games since the Royals got to 16-21 on May 12.
Lorenzo Cain snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a home run off Jordan Montgomery. Jorge Bonifacio hit his fourth homer in five games, Whit Merrifield homered to extend his hitting streak to nine games, and Mike Moustakas hit his 11th home run.
“It was nice,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “You don’t have to manufacture runs when you can put some swings like that on the board and get some runs.”
The Yankees (26-17) are 5-8 in their last 13 games following a six-game winning streak from May 2-8. They will be looking to rebound after their bullpen faltered Tuesday, though New York did get solo home runs from Aaron Hicks and Chris Carter.
“That’s a good team over there, and they can swing it,” New York catcher Austin Romine said of the Royals. “I don’t think they gave up one at-bat all night. They grinded a lot of at-bats out. That’s just how it falls sometimes.”
After Danny Duffy pitched seven solid innings Tuesday, Jason Hammel (1-5, 6.20 ERA) will look to end a seven-game road winless skid when he faces the Yankees for the second consecutive start.
Since beating Milwaukee as a member of the Chicago Cubs on July 22, Hammel is 0-6 with a 9.28 on the road. This season, he is 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA outside of Kansas City.
Hammel is 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA in 20 outings against the Yankees. In Kansas City’s 7-1 loss on May 16, he allowed five runs and nine hits in six innings.
The right-hander has lasted at least six innings in every start, but he struggles in the latter portion of his outings. In the first two innings, opponents are 14-for-59 (.237) off him, but after that, opponents are hitting .364 (40-for-110).
Hammel has only allowed six home runs this season, but four came in his past two outings. He allowed homers to Logan Morrison and Rickie Weeks on May 10, and last week he served up homers to New York’s Carter and Gary Sanchez.
“The last two starts have been homers that have really hurt me,” Hammel said. “The Tampa game I gave up two homers there, and that’s four runs. It’s frustrating.”
New York right-hander Luis Severino (2-2, 3.64 ERA) will face the Royals for the first time.
Severino is 4-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 15 appearances (12 starts) when facing an opponent for the first time.
The right-hander has struggled to give the Yankees distance in the last two starts. In those outings, he has allowed four runs and 11 hits in 7 1/3 innings while throwing 166 pitches.
“I struggled in the first inning,” Severino said of his start against Tampa Bay on Friday. “I threw a lot of pitches. I think it was a bit of a battle tonight to keep myself in the game. I wanted to go seven innings, but I didn’t get there.”