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YANKEES 11, ROYALS 6 Yankees rout Royals 11-6 in series opener

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Friday, May 10, 2013, at 10:38 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, May 16, 2013, at 2:47 p.m.

It’s one of the great questions over the season’s first six weeks.

Exactly how are the New York Yankees winning with this patchwork roster collection while Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira nurse injuries on the disabled list?

The answer, generally, seems to be better-than-anticipated pitching, but not Friday — no-o-o, not Friday — in an 11-6 victory over the Royals in the start to a three-game weekend series at Kauffman Stadium.

“On a night when we needed some runs,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, “we got them. We got a big night from (Lyle) Overbay. Ichiro (Suzuki) gets us started ... Everybody seemed to help out tonight.”

Indeed, but look closely: This Yankees’ lineup seems to consist of Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner and a bunch of guys whose careers have either crested or who elsewhere might be regarded as, well, castoffs.

And, still, they just pummeled the Royals. Specifically, they pummeled starter Wade Davis (seven runs in five-plus innings) and reliever Bruce Chen (three runs in 12/3 innings).

Overbay had four hits and five RBIs. Nix reached base four times and scored three runs. Suzuki went three for five with two RBIs. Chris Nelson went two for five with two RBIs.

“I made it look a lot harder than it should have been,” Davis said. “Anytime you face any lineup, if you go out there and execute and do your thing, you should have a good day.

“But when you don’t, anybody is going to do that.”

Let’s review: Overbay, 36, is on his fourth club since August 2012 and was released twice in that span. Nix, 25, entered the season with a .214 career average over parts of six big-league seasons with five clubs.

Suzuki, 39, was deemed last year by Seattle to be at the end of what projects as a Hall of Fame career when his production dipped notably for a third straight season.

Nelson, 27, is a May 1 cash acquisition from Colorado, where he spent the previous three-plus seasons amassing 616 at-bats.

“Nix got on all four times,” Overbay said. “Those are key at-bats that give the next guy an opportunity, and I reaped the rewards tonight. It’s been a fun ride. I’m just enjoying it. I was close to be going home (in retirement).”

On the plus side, the Royals were able to retire Vernon Wells in each if his five at-bats. But, yes, Cano and Gardner also each had two of the Yankees’ 16 hits.

“All of their damage (against Davis) was on pitches up,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He just struggled to command the ball down consistently. We just couldn’t get Overbay.”

Who needs Jeter and those other guys? The Yankees are 21-13 and sitting atop the American League East.

It didn’t matter that the Royals rocked Yankees starter Phil Hughes, 2-2, for six runs in 5 2/3 innings before going quiet against Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan. Kelley faced seven hitters and struck out six.

The Royals wasted Jarrod Dyson’s first homer since Sept. 27, 2010, a three-run answer in the second after Davis surrendered two-run homers to Suzuki and Overbay in the top of the inning.

“It was big at the time,” Dyson said, “but unfortunately we didn’t get the win. That’s what counts. The home run doesn’t even matter if you don’t get the win.”

Alex Gordon’s two-run double in the fifth pulled the Royals even at 5-5, but the Yankees immediately countered by battering Davis and Chen for five runs in the sixth inning.

“When Gordy got the big double to tie it up,” Yost said, “then you’re thinking, ‘OK, here we go.’ But we just couldn’t hold them.”

The loss was the fourth in five games for the Royals, who dropped to 18-14 and fell 1 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central Division.

Davis, 2-3, slipped back to struggle mode after six strong innings in his previous start against the White Sox; he yielded seven runs in five-plus innings to the Yankees.

“There were a couple that they hit that normally don’t get hit like that,” Davis said, “but I’ve got to get better, and I will. I felt great. That can’t happen on a day when you feel good and have good stuff.”

Even with that effort against Chicago, Davis has allowed 23 runs in 19 1/3 innings over his last four starts. His ERA is up to 5.86. Even so, Yost dismissed the suggestion of pulling Davis from the rotation.

“We’ll keep working through it,” Yost said. “Pitchers are like hitters. We’ve seen our hitters struggle, and now you see them starting to break out. It’s the same thing with pitchers. They go through ups and their downs.”

Chen, in contrast, had not yielded an earned run in 11 2/3 innings over six appearances this season — and his hold-the-fort skills produced two victories — before getting slapped around by these ramshackle Bombers.

“I didn’t pitch well enough,” Chen said. “I felt like I let my teammates down. I got into good pitching counts, and I should have kept the ball down better. I gave up some hits, and we ended up losing the game.”

To reach Bob Dutton, Royals reporter for The Star, send email to bdutton@kcstar.com. Follow his updates at twitter.com/Royals_Report.

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