Eight-run first inning vs. Guthrie sets table for easy victory over Royals
By Jeffrey Flanagan and Paul Casella
NEW YORK -- The Yankees snapped their six-game losing streak in grand fashion on Monday, cruising to a 14-1 victory over the Royals in the series opener at Yankee Stadium.
Losers of six straight and 10 of their past 11, the Yankees wasted no time in jumping all over Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, knocking the veteran right-hander out of the game before he could record an out in the second inning. In the second-shortest start of his career, Guthrie allowed a career-worst 11 earned runs. He gave up four homers and allowed 13 of the 16 batters he faced to reach base.
Eight of those 11 runs -- and three of the homers -- came in the first inning as the Yankees staked right-hander Nathan Eovaldi to an 8-0 lead. New York continued to pour it on in the second inning, as the first two batters reached before Stephen Drew ended Guthrie's day with another home run, a three-run shot that pushed the lead to 11-0.
That was more than enough for Eovaldi, who limited the Royals to just one run over seven-plus much-needed innings for a taxed pitching staff. New York had received just 6 2/3 combined innings from its starters over the past two games, and it hadn't seen a starter complete seven since CC Sabathia did so in a 5-1 victory over Kansas City on May 16.
The 14-run outburst matched the Yankees' season high -- set in a 14-4 victory over the Red Sox on April 12 -- as did the five home runs, first done in an 11-5 win over the Rays on May 11. The 14 hits were two shy of the season-high 16 they collected in the aforementioned win over Boston.
With the victory, the Yankees moved a game above .500 at 23-22.
"We've been needing that for a week and a half," said Brett Gardner, one of four Yankees -- along with Chase Headley, Brian McCann and Drew -- to drive in three runs. "We came out swinging the bats well, and Nathan pitched a really, really good game, which was great to see. Overall, just definitely a good feeling."
Said Royals manager Ned Yost of Guthrie, "He just didn't have it. It was one of those days."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Yanks come out swinging: Each of the Yankees' first five batters came around to score en route to a season-best eight-run first inning. Headley put the first dent on the scoreboard with a two-run homer, and after each of the next two hitters reached base, McCann followed with a three-run shot. Gardner, who had doubled to start the frame, capped the rally with a three-run homer in his second at-bat of the inning.
Finnegan sharp: One of the few positives to come out of the game for the Royals was rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan tossing three innings of hitless relief. Finnegan, called up Monday morning after Danny Duffy went on the disabled list, walked one and struck out two.
"I knew what my job was in that situation," Finnegan said. "I'm supposed to come in and throw strikes, and the guys did a good job defensively behind me."
With left-hander Jason Vargas set to start for Duffy on Tuesday, Finnegan was returned to Triple-A Omaha following Monday's game.
Heathcott, Lindgren enjoy a pair of firsts: Outfielder Slade Heathcott joined in on the Yankees' barrage, clubbing a two-run blast in the seventh inning for his first career home run. Heathcott, a first-round pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, went 2-for-5 on Monday and is now 5-for-12 (.417) since making his Major League debut last Wednesday. Not to be outdone, Jacob Lindgren -- the Yankees' No. 9 overall prospect, according to MLB.com -- came on for his Major League debut one inning later and tossed two scoreless innings to close out the ballgame.
"The way you explain it is, it's baseball," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of his team snapping its six-game losing streak by routing the club that entered with the best record in baseball. "Our game is probably as unpredictable as any game in professional sports."
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With their eight runs in the opening frame on Monday, the Yankees have now scored a Major League-best 48 first-inning runs. They had entered the day tied with the Tigers for the Major League lead with 40. New York hasn't tallied more than 25 combined runs in any other inning.
Guthrie is just the second starter since at least 1914 to allow 11 or more earned runs without recording at least one out in the second inning. The other such outing came on July 29, 2007, when then-Astros righty Jason Jennings was tagged for 11 earned runs while lasting just two-thirds of an inning in an 18-11 loss to the Padres.
Girardi challenged a safe call in the top of the fifth when Jarrod Dyson appeared to have stolen second base. The safe call was overturned on replay after one minute, 25 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT Royals: Vargas (3-1, 5.26 ERA) will make his first start since he earned the victory in a 5-3 win over Cleveland on May 5. The left-hander, who will be activated from the disabled list prior to the game, has not pitched at Yankee Stadium since Aug. 13, 2013, when he was with the Angels. He lost that game, 14-7.
Yankees: New York will hand the ball to Adam Warren (2-3, 4.26 ERA) on Tuesday, as it sets its sights on winning back-to-back games for the first time since wins over the Orioles and Rays on May 10-11. Warren took the loss his last time out while matching his season highs in both walks (four) and home runs allowed (two), though he did limit the Nationals to just two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.
Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.