Blanked by Royals, Yankees fall to .500

Blanked by Royals, Yankees fall to .500

Blanked by Royals, Yankees fall to .500
NEW YORK -- The Yankees may have tired of offering excuses for their punchless offense, but they aren't any closer to finding a solution.

New York went hitless in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position on Monday as Felipe Paulino pitched to a gem, leading the Royals to a 6-0 victory on a soggy night at Yankee Stadium.

"It's very frustrating," Alex Rodriguez said. "We've talked about it over and over again. You can't really describe it. It's not a lot of fun, obviously, going out and not getting the job done.

"At this point, nobody is going to feel sorry for us. The team is working hard, we're hitting some balls hard, some you're not hitting hard. We're going to come back tomorrow and try again."

With the loss, the Yankees (21-21) dropped to the .500 mark for the first time since April 18, falling into a tie for the American League East cellar with the Red Sox, who beat the first-place Orioles on Monday for their ninth win in 11 games.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi is not satisfied with the results his team is producing, but he does not have any issues with the club's preparation and intensity.

"If I saw a lack of effort, that would upset me. I'm not seeing that," Girardi said. "I'm seeing guys do their work, on the field and off the field. It's just frustrating when it doesn't go your way."

The Yankees suffered their sixth defeat in seven games as right-hander Hiroki Kuroda was tagged with the loss, allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The damage against Kuroda included another first-inning crooked number, as Mike Moustakas drove a two-run homer that clanged off the right-field foul pole, but it was difficult to fault Kuroda. Even one run would have been too much to overcome.

"There will be tough times for both of us, not just offense," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "They usually help me out, so they're going through a tough time. As a team, we're going through a tough time now, but I'm sure we'll get through this."

The Yankees have endured a skid of at least 20 hitless at-bats in RISP situations for 10 straight years and missed the playoffs just once, so a drought like this may just be par for the course.

But Monday's punchless performance -- their most hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position since a July 6, 1990, game against the Twins -- left the Yankees 6-for-72 with runners at second or third base since May 13.

"What you try to do is you try take positives out of every game, even though at times it's hard to," Derek Jeter said. "We're going to come out and play tomorrow. It's not a football schedule. All you can do is keep battling, keep swinging and hope that tomorrow is better than today."

Paulino beat New York for the second time this season, having also pitched well against them at Kansas City on May 5. The right-hander struck out eight on Monday, but it was impossible to tell where his stuff and the Yankees' struggles intersected.

"He's been throwing well for them; he throws hard," Jeter said. "He mixes it up. It seems like I've been saying the same thing about every pitcher we've seen the past couple of weeks."

New York's biggest opportunity came in the third inning, as two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs. Paulino struck out Robinson Cano looking, got A-Rod to wave at a third strike and then escaped as Raul Ibanez flied out on a well-hit drive to the wall in left-center.

"That's just kind of the way it's going right now," Girardi said. "You have to find a way to get through it. It's going to end. Tomorrow's a good day for it to end."

The Yankees also left a runner on third base in the first, fourth and sixth innings against Paulino, who scattered six hits while walking two.

"These guys, the Yankees, are real smart," Paulino said. "So I just tried to mix up my pitches all the time. They're guessing all the time, and that's what I was looking for. I mixed up my pitches, and it worked great tonight."

Desperate to spark the offense after hitting the 500th double of his career in the bottom of the sixth, Rodriguez tagged up from second base and just barely beat a throw from left field with a headfirst slide.

"I'm going to continue to attack; this team's going to continue to attack," Rodriguez said. "That's the way you get out of situations like this, is by being assertive, confident, keep working hard."

Also allowing a third-inning Eric Hosmer RBI double, Kuroda lost his second straight start and for the third time in his last four outings, permitting seven hits while walking three and striking out four.

Jeff Francoeur slugged a two-run homer off Freddy Garcia in the seventh, and an eighth-inning wild pitch by Garcia -- the right-hander's sixth in 23 innings this year -- allowed Irving Falu to score the final run.

"Obviously, there's a lot of frustration in here," Rodriguez said. "We know we're capable of doing a lot more, and we will. But tomorrow would be a great day to start."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.