NEW YORK | Only now, in the season’s final week, are the Royals getting their first look at the new Yankee Stadium. And tonight, perhaps, or maybe Wednesday, they figure to get a look at the Yankees.
Who were these guys? The Yankees rested most of their regulars Monday, one day after clinching the American League East Division title by completing a three-game weekend sweep against second-place Boston.
And still beat the Royals 8-2.
Robinson Cano, one of three regulars in the New York lineup, hit a grand slam that highlighted a five-run seventh inning against Royals starter Luke Hochevar. Jorge Posada also contributed a single and double to a 12-hit attack.
But the Yankees also got lots of production from a collection of backups. Rookie shortstop Ramiro Peña, who subbed for Derek Jeter, contributed a homer and an RBI single. Shelley Duncan had a RBI single in the sixth that broke a 2-2 tie.
“It’s that one inning again,” Hochevar said. “I was in some situations to put hitters away, and I didn’t do it.
“The grand slam, I go first-pitch cutter in, and he fouled it off. I tried to go farther in, but it backs up and catches too much of the plate. It was just mistakes in key situations.”
The loss was the fifth in six games for the Royals, who fell to 64-93 and missed a chance to vacate last place in the AL Central. Cleveland dropped to 64-92 earlier in the evening by losing to Chicago.
Chad Gaudin, 2-0, won for the first time as a starter since joining New York in an Aug. 6 trade with San Diego. In fact, Gaudin won for the first time in 13 starts overall by limiting the Royals to two runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
“It was nothing overpowering,” left fielder Mitch Maier said, “but he moved it around. You don’t have to have electrifying stuff if you can locate.”
Damaso Marte and Alfredo Aceves closed out the Yankees’ 101st victory.
Hochevar, 7-12, surrendered single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before the game got away in a five-run seventh. He failed to get a single out in the seventh against five batters before exiting after Cano’s homer.
“It got away from him,” manager Trey Hillman said. “He left a couple of pitches out over the plate -- obviously the home run (to Cano). But the previous inning, he had an opportunity to get Shelley Duncan out. He made mistakes with 0-2 pitches.”
The Royals twice erased one-run leads by scoring single runs in the fifth and sixth innings against Gaudin. Mark Teahen made it 1-1 with a leadoff homer before Mike Jacobs’ sacrifice fly tied the game at 2-2.
That was it, though. So the Royals are 0-1 at the new Yankee Stadium after going 12-49 across the street over the last 14 years at the old cathedral.
This loss came after a steady rain delayed the first pitch by 1 hour, 56 minutes -- or until 9:01 p.m. Eastern time. When play started, New York offered a lineup with just three regulars: Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Posada (as the DH).
Some perspective: Teams can be fined in spring training if they start fewer than four regulars in a game where admission is charged. (And, boy, do they charge admission in New York. The average ticket price is $72.97.)
Cano opened the fourth inning with an opposite-field double off the left-field wall for his 201st hit of the season. He went to third when Posada followed with a soft single to left.
Eric Hinske produced the run by sending a ground single through the left side that beat the infield overshift.
The Yankees led 1-0.
Hochevar avoided further problems by getting Duncan to ground into a double play before striking out Juan Miranda.
The Royals answered immediately when Teahen led off the fifth with a drive over the left-field wall for his 12th homer of the season.
Francisco Cervelli opened the New York fifth with a single when left fielder Mitch Maier slipped on the grass, but Cervelli was thrown out in trying to steal second.
Peña then turned on a 1-1 fastball for his first career homer on a drive that just cleared the right-field wall. The Yankees had the lead again at 2-1.
Again, the Royals answered. Yuniesky Betancourt lined a one-out single to left in the sixth and raced to third when Billy Butler’s slicing drive to center eluded Brett Gardner for a double.
Jacobs tied the game with a sacrifice fly to deep right.
And again, Hochevar couldn’t produce a shutdown inning. Posada looped a one-out double to left, went to third on Hinske’s grounder to second before Duncan pulled an 0-2 fastball through the left side for a 3-2 lead.
“I had him 0-2,” Hochevar said, “and I leave up a ball over the plate that’s meant to be in off the plate.”
The worst was yet to come.
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