Gee delivering stability as Royals' fifth starter

Right-hander keeps Yanks in check for 3rd quality start in August

Gee delivering stability as Royals' fifth starter

KANSAS CITY -- In a crucial series opener against the Yankees, Royals right-hander Dillon Gee delivered.

Gee gave up just four hits, which matched a season low, and one run in six innings in an 8-5 win to pull Kansas City just two games back of Baltimore for an American League Wild Card spot for the first time since the All-Star break. Gee struck out four, all looking, while walking one batter. It was his seventh straight start of five innings or more, a mark he has hit in 10 of his last 12 starts, and couldn't have come at a bigger time.

"I'll take it for sure," Gee said. "The guys got me an early lead, and the focus from there was just try to hold [it]."

Gee got off to a quick start, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He didn't allow a runner to reach scoring position until the fourth inning, when the Yankees finally broke through with a pair of two-out doubles by Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro.

"Ended up hanging a curve ball to Castro for the only run that they scored, but [he] just did a great job of executing pitches," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "[He] changed speeds very, very effectively. Worked up in the strike zone, worked down in the strike zone and worked both corners very, very efficiently."

After giving up the run, Gee settled right back in, even having to maneuver around some trouble in the fifth inning. With two out, a single and a walk moved Tyler Austin into scoring position. Gee collected himself, throwing a first-pitch strike to Aaron Hicks, something he could not do in the previous two at-bats.

Gee got behind in the count again, after Hicks took two balls, but he went back inside for strike two, before eventually getting Hicks to fly out to end the inning.

"I'd been feeling like I was throwing the ball well, just the results weren't showing it. I just think they're starting to catch up a little bit," Gee said. "[Things] did get a little dicey that inning. Hicks helped me out there probably a little bit. That was a ball [he flied out on] ... I was fortunate on a couple plays. [Brian] McCann just got one off the end that almost got out of the park, Castro same thing off the wall."

Early in the season, the Royals were lacking in the fifth starter's spot. Through July, Chris Young, Kris Medlen, Brian Flynn and Gee combined to go 8-19 as the team's collective fifth starter.

But as the Royals make the postseason push, the fifth starter spot has stabilized. Gee returned for the sixth inning and retired the Yankees 1-2-3 to complete his third quality start of the month, matching the total from the fifth starter's spot from April-July.

And just as important as the numbers, Gee's command was precise, as he worked the corners to pick up his second win in his last three starts after going 0-3 in the previous four.

"I felt [I] was starting to turn a page a while back," Gee said. "I was able to go in on guys and come back away with backdoor two-seamers. ... You have to pitch off your fastball, and to be able to locate it both sides of the plate up and down, that was the key tonight."

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Kansas City. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.