Kansas City Royals

Royals’ Chris Young battered for five homers in 6-3 loss to the Yankees

AP

The baseballs left the confines of Yankee Stadium one by one, an irregular soundtrack of cannon fire filling the spring air in the Bronx, a measuring tape needed to document the path of home run destruction.

By the end of the barrage, the baseballs, five of them, had traveled a combined 1,955 feet. The carnage took fewer than three innings. The sequence left the Royals battered and stunned. The performance left starting pitcher Chris Young standing before his locker in the aftermath of another loss, vowing to be better.

“I expect to be better,” Young would say. “I will be.”

On Monday night in New York, Young allowed five solo homers in a 6-3 loss to the Yankees in the opening game of a four-game series. The five homers tied a club record for the most ever allowed in one game — matching a performance by Sean O’Sullivan in 2011 — and they followed a theme of 2016.

Young, a crafty and fierce veteran, has allowed 13 homers in 32 1/3 innings this season. On Monday, he faced 14 batters and surrendered five solo shots, including two by former Royal Carlos Beltran, a 39-year-old who enteredMonday batting just .236 this season. The homer assault represented all of the damage Young allowed in 2 2/3 innings. It was enough to ensure that the Royals continued their precipitous fall, even after solo homers from Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer, who went deep for the sixth time this season.

What's wrong with the (15-15) Royals? 

After their 10th loss in 13 games, the Royals are now 15-16 on the season and below .500 for the time since July 22, 2014. In the moments after the loss, Young was left searching for an answer.

“It’s a horrible feeling, feeling like you’re letting your team down, not even giving us a chance,” Young said. “And certainly not what I expect in myself. I put in a lot of time, hard work and effort to be good at this game, and the results aren’t there right now. It’s frustrating.”

As is his custom, Royals manager Ned Yost stopped short of commenting on Young’s status in his starting rotation. But for the moment, the performance will likely put the immediate future and role of Young in some degree of peril. In seven starts this season, the 36-year-old Young has recorded a 1-5 record and a 6.68 ERA. In his last three appearances, he has been ravaged by nine homers.

“I still have a lot of confidence in him,” Yost said. “It’s just like a lot of things. He’s going through a rough spell with his fastball right now.”

For Young, the latest struggle came in New York, just a subway ride away from the site of his greatest career achievement. Nearly seven months ago, Young started Game 4 of the World Series at Citi Field. The appearance came just four days after he threw three scoreless innings in relief in Game 1 of the World Series at Kauffman Stadium, lifting the Royals to a 5-4 victory. In 15 2/3 innings across the postseason, Young posted a 2.87 ERA. At 36 years old, doubted and once left for dead on the scrap heap, he was a world champion.

In the months after the World Series, Royals general manager Dayton Moore called Young the MVP of the pitching staff in 2015. He had finished the regular season with a 3.06 ERA in 123 1/3 innings. The performance emboldened the Royals to sign him to a two-year, $11.5 million contract in the offseason. After six weeks, Young has not matched the precision and guile he displayed in 2015.

“I don’t have any room for error,” Young said. “If I miss a spot, it’s getting hit. It’s getting hit hard. That’s what happened tonight."

On Monday, New York’s Brian McCann opened the scoring with a 362-foot homer to right field in the bottom of the first. Beltran would follow with a 395-foot blast in the second. The wheels would fall off in the third. Brett Gardner opened the inning with a 391-foot blast to right-center. Aaron Hicks came next, delivering a 424-foot blast into the seats in right field. Moments later, Beltran touched up Young once more, parking a 383-foot bomb beyond the short porch in right field.

Four of the five homers came on fastballs. Young said the pitch is lacking the “life” it showed during his 2015 campaign. For Young, a four-seam fastball pitcher, the life critical. He describes it as the way the ball travels through the strike zone, appearing to pick up speed at the last moment. This year, he is throwing harder than last year. Yet the life is not there.

“I don’t know why,” Young said. “I don’t know if it’s mechanical. I don’t know. It’s weird because the velocity is better than it was last year, but the life is not. And I got to figure it out.”

Young, of course, has always been a fly ball pitcher, prone to giving up homers at a high rate. And there are few parks that fit Young worse than Yankee Stadium, which can act as a band box for left-handed batters. But Mondaynight was only so much about venue. Armed with an 89-mph fastball and his “invisiball” slider, Young could not get the Yankees out.

“They didn’t miss it,” Yost said.

The night left the Royals in a weird spot. Since July 22, 2014 — a span of 255 regular-season games — they had been at .500 or better. No team in baseball had a longer active run. On Monday night in New York, they suddenly weren’t.

“It’s definitely a weird place,” Hosmer said. “I don’t know, I feel like after the game, you got to think of a new phrase or something to say, but we just got to get it done.”

Kansas City AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Escobar ss

5

0

1

1

0

1

.256

Cain cf

5

0

1

0

0

1

.256

Hosmer 1b

3

1

1

1

1

0

.336

Morales dh

4

0

0

0

0

1

.198

Gordon lf

3

1

2

1

1

0

.233

Perez c

4

0

1

0

0

2

.233

Infante 2b

4

0

2

0

0

1

.258

Cuthbert 3b

4

0

1

0

0

2

.250

Dyson rf

3

0

0

0

0

0

.218

Orlando ph

1

1

1

0

0

0

.286

Totals 36

3

10

3

2

8

 

New York AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Gardner lf

4

1

1

1

0

0

.240

Hicks cf

3

1

1

2

0

0

.136

McCann c

4

1

1

1

0

2

.267

Teixeira 1b

4

0

0

0

0

3

.202

Beltran dh

4

2

2

2

0

0

.245

Ackley rf

3

0

1

0

0

0

.125

Gamel rf

1

0

1

0

0

0

1.000

Gregorius ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.217

Headley 3b

2

1

1

0

1

0

.171

Torreyes 2b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.313

Totals 32

6

9

6

1

5

 

Kansas City

010

000

011

3

10

0

New York

113

000

10x

6

9

1

E—Nova (1). LOB—Kansas City 9, New York 4. 2B—Orlando (1). HR—Gordon (3), off Nova; Hosmer (6), off Shreve; McCann (4), off Young; Beltran (6), off Young; Gardner (4), off Young; Hicks (2), off Young; Beltran (6), off Young. RBIs—Escobar (9), Hosmer (16), Gordon (7), Gardner (8), Hicks 2 (6), McCann (12), Beltran 2 (14). SB—Dyson (5). SF—Hicks. DP—New York 2.

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Young L, 1-5

2 2/3

6

5

5

0

2

6.68

Gee

5 1/3

3

1

1

1

3

2.61

New York

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Nova

4 2/3

6

1

1

1

3

4.34

Coke

 2/3

0

0

0

1

0

0.00

Yates W, 2-0

1 2/3

1

0

0

0

2

2.38

Shreve

1

1

1

1

0

1

5.25

Chapman

1

2

1

1

0

2

9.00

Inherited runners-scored—Coke 2-0, Yates 1-0. T—2:41. A—41,243 (49,642).

Rustin Dodd: @rustindodd

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