NEW YORK | Joakim Soria was unavailable Tuesday night when the Royals sought to protect a one-run lead in the ninth inning against New York at Yankee Stadium.
So, no, this doesn’t end well.
Without Soria, the Royals turned to Kyle Farnsworth, which delighted those here in the South Bronx who well recalled his struggles over the three previous years while pitching for the Yankees.
And Farnsworth coughed up two runs in a 4-3 loss to the Yankees.
The end came when Juan Miranda’s two-out grounder caromed off Farnsworth’s right leg into foul territory along the first-base line for a game-winning single.
Only it isn’t as simple as that.
The Royals first put themselves through the sort of angst and heartbreak that was no stranger across the street at the old Yankee Stadium. Now, they’ve been blooded properly, it seems, in this new $1.5 billion palace.
“We’ve gotten walked-off here a couple of times,” Royals third baseman Alex Gordon acknowledged. “They’re good, and I know they’ve had a lot of comebacks this year. So they’re used to it.
“But we really didn’t do our part to try to win that game. That’s just the way it was. They took advantage of our mistakes.”
Boy, did they.
Royals manager Trey Hillman summoned Farnsworth to protect a 3-2 lead because Soria was still recovering from a 46-pitch outing in a victory on Sunday over Minnesota.
“Not available,” Hillman said. “He’s just a little sore and needed another day.”
Soria’s bounce-back ability from extended outings has long been a concern due to his history of shoulder and elbow problems. That is why Hillman long resisted the urge this year to use him for longer than one inning.
No Soria left Farnsworth as the prime alternative since Juan Cruz had already worked 1 1/3 innings while nursing the lead into the ninth inning.
Farnsworth struck out Brett Gardner before the inning unraveled after he failed to handle Francisco Cervelli’s soft hopper. The ball squirted through Farnsworth before dying for a single in front of Alberto Callaspo’s charge from second base.
“I beat myself by not fielding that ground ball,” Farnsworth said. “You don’t make routine plays, and it opens big innings at times. That’s what happened.”
Cervelli’s single forced Billy Butler to play tight to first base to cut down the possibility of a steal. And that created a hole for pinch-hitter Eric Hinske, who yanked a single through the right side.
“For me, (Cervelli’s grounder) is a routine ground ball,” Hillman said. “Somebody’s got to make it. If you make that play right there, then Billy is not (holding) first base. The ball hit to right field (by Hinske) wasn’t exactly scalded. That’s the third out.”
Instead the Yankees had runners at first and third, the crowd of 44,794 was in full throat and the disaster meter was red-lining.
The Yankees pulled even when Robinson Cano sent a sacrifice fly to deep center. That snatched away rookie Anthony Lerew’s first major-league victory.
Hinske stole second and went to third when catcher John Buck’s throw sailed into center field. That prompted an intentional walk to Johnny Damon.
“I elected after that situation to make the young man (Miranda) beat us instead of giving Johnny Damon a chance,” Hillman said. “That didn’t work out either. So it was a messed-up ninth inning.”
Miranda’s grounder ended the game and provided reliever Brian Bruney, 5-0, with an unexpected victory.
Lerew deserved better after permitting just five hits and two runs in six-plus innings.
“As long as I go out there and pitch well,” Lerew said, “I’m not going to be disappointed in anything. It would have been awesome to get one. But as long as I do my part, I’m happy with that.”
The Royals took a 1-0 lead against A.J. Burnett on Butler’s two-out RBI single in the third inning. The Yankees pulled even on Mark Teixeira’s two-out blast in the sixth before the Royals scored twice in the seventh.
Yankees reliever Phil Coke virtually gifted two runs to the Royals.
Coke was slow to field Gordon’s bunt single, threw away a potential double-play hopper from Josh Anderson and chose not to try for a sure out at home upon fielding Mitch Maier’s squibber.
Lerew carried a 3-1 lead into the seventh before exiting after Nick Swisher’s leadoff homer. From there, the Royals got the game to the ninth. With Soria, that’s usually good enough.
Hillman isn’t even sure Soria will be available tonight, if needed, in the series finale.
“We’ll see (today),” he said. “I hope so.”
WHEN: 6:05 tonight