As poor play resulted in loss after loss, frustration built up inside the Yankees. During a lost three days against Texas – which extended the skid to six and resulted in their 10th defeat in 11 games – it became clear the anger was boiling over.
After the game Saturday, Brett Gardner said the team “got embarrassed.”
After Sunday’s, defeat a ticked Joe Girardi said “there better be frustration” in the clubhouse and Mark Teixeira added “everyone needs to step it up mentally and figure out how to play the game again.”
The Bombers turned the inner rage outward on Monday and the Royals had the misfortune of being in the other dugout when it happened. The Yankees exploded for three home runs in an eight-run first inning and went on to a 14-1 rout of the AL Central leaders before 36,031 at the Stadium. They hit five home runs in all en route to their biggest margin of victory this season.
“There was some urgency and a little irritability about how we were playing, but there was no panic,” said Chase Headley, who had three hits, including a two-run homer in the first and three RBI. “Guys were (saying), ‘We’re going to come out of this and we’re going to be better for it – we’re going to come together over this.’ Hopefully this was a first step to that.”
“It seemed like for a week and a half we went from losing two or three to losing 10 of 11. . . . . the last week and a half it’s just kind snowballed and today was nice to snap out of it,” said Gardner whose three-run shot in the first made it 8-0. “It was fun to be a part of. We’ve been on the other side of that for the last week or so it seems like – some teams putting up some big innings against us and getting in a big deficit early.”
Brian McCann’s three-run shot came after Headley’s and before Gardner’s as 13 Yankees came to bat in the first inning. Stephen Drew hit a three-run home run in the second to make it 11-0. And Slade Heathcott’s first career homer, a two-run job in the seventh, pushed the margin to 14-1.
“To be able to get three three-run homers in the first two innings? It was nice,” Girardi said. “We’ve been through some tough losses, we’ve been through some ugly losses.”
“No question. It’s a weight off the shoulders, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Headley said. “We understand what we have coming tomorrow: the team with the best record in baseball going into today. It’s a great win. It’s a relief. But we have to play to win the series now.”
The first four home runs came off righthander Jeremy Guthrie (4-3), who managed to record only three outs while facing 16 batters – the worst outing of his career. He gave up 11 earned runs in one-plus innings.
Yankees righty Nathan Eovaldi, working with a huge margin for error, equaled his best start of this season, allowing one run in seven innings. He gave up eight hits and one walk while striking out four. He also allowed one run over seven innings in an April 21 victory at Detroit.
“It’s just trying to go out there, have a good outing, getting the guys back on track,” Eovaldi said.
Eovaldi (4-1) started the eighth but was lifted after giving up a leadoff single. Rookie Jacob Lindgren – the Yankees’ top 2014 draft pick – came on to make his big-league debut and got a double-play ground ball with his second pitch. His two scoreless innings closed out the rout.
There was some concern overnight about McCann, who was pulled late in Sunday’s loss because of a right calf cramp. But McCann reported Monday with no soreness and asked to be in the lineup, even though it was a day game after a night game. “He expected to play and I put him in there,” Girardi said.
“We were due,” Headley said. “Obviously it’s been a tough couple weeks for us, but you’re going to go through that during the course of a season. Considering how bad it’s gone recently, to be where we are? We’re pretty fortunate.”
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