Beating Yanks again, Paulino continues rise

Beating Yanks again, Paulino continues rise

Beating Yanks again, Paulino continues rise
NEW YORK -- Rain kept falling and the breeze made the damp evening chilly, but the Royals found the weather at Yankee Stadium positively beautiful.

That's because Felipe Paulino threw 6 2/3 innings and Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur each hit a two-run homer in Kansas City's 6-0 victory over the New York Yankees on Monday night in the Bronx.

Paulino, now with a 2-1 record and a 1.42 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list, has given the Royals' rotation a new lease on life.

"We think our rotation is starting to round out, and he's a big part of the reason," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Since he's been back, he's been dynamite."

Paulino's pitching was the primary reason that Yost was the center of a celebratory beer shower in the visitors' clubhouse after the game. Yost notched the 600th victory of his managerial career, which has seen him skipper in Milwaukee and Kansas City.

"These boys like to celebrate, trust me," said Yost, soaked by brew, not the rain.

They had a lot of other things to celebrate, too.

With attendance announced as 39,229, the fans huddled under umbrellas and rain gear while the Royals, by winning the series opener, took a 3-2 edge over the Yankees so far this year. The two clubs split a four-game series at Kansas City in early May.

Monday's win started well when Moustakas, in his first at-bat at Yankee Stadium, followed Billy Butler's single with a soaring home run that ticked off the top of the right-field pole to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

"I hit it pretty good off the bat," Moustakas said. "I knew it had enough to get out; I just didn't know if it was going to stay fair or not. It started off pretty straight and ended up hooking toward the end, and thank goodness it hit the fair pole."

Long-sputtering first baseman Eric Hosmer got into the act in the third inning, following Jarrod Dyson's leadoff walk and stolen base with an RBI double to the left-field wall.

And in the seventh, the Yankees brought in right-hander Freddy Garcia to face the right-handed-hitting Francoeur with Butler again on base. On the second pitch, Francoeur sent his second homer of the year streaking into the left-field bullpen.

"I told Moose for his first game in Yankee Stadium, it was pretty impressive to come up there in his first at-bat and hit a bomb," Francoeur said. "I told him my first at-bat at Yankee Stadium was against Randy Johnson, so that was a little tougher."

Francoeur, though, quickly changed the subject to Paulino and his handling of the Yankees with the bases loaded and no outs in the third inning. Coming up were Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez and Raul Ibanez.

"I thought the turning point of the game was Paulino," Francoeur said. "Get the bases loaded with, to me, the best hitter in the league in Robinson Cano coming up -- most dangerous, for sure, at that point. To get him out and then strike out A-Rod and get Ibanez -- obviously, he hit a good one, but [left fielder Alex Gordon] made a great play.

"To keep that 3-0 lead gave us a little confidence, and when I got that home run, it made it 5-0 and kind of put them away."

Cano took a slider for strike 3, Rodriguez missed a fastball and Ibanez's bid for a grand slam fell a few feet short, Gordon rushing to catch it just shy of the left-field wall.

"I said, 'OK, let's try to do this with the least damage possible,'" Paulino said. "I got out of it with no runs, and that's a good thing."

The good thing continued for Paulino through two outs in the seventh, when the bullpen took over. Tim Collins and Aaron Crow combined to complete the shutout, but afterward, the Yankees were talking about Paulino.

"The one thing that a lot of guys in there were talking about -- we saw the ball well," said Curtis Granderson, twice a strikeout victim. "We just weren't able to put good swings on the pitches that he made. When he did get himself into a little bit of trouble, he was able to get out of it."

Paulino even made some Royals history. On May 5 at Kansas City, making his return from a right forearm ailment, Paulino fired six scoreless innings in a 5-1 win over the Yankees. Thus his performance on Monday night made him the first pitcher in Kansas City franchise history to throw six or more shutout innings in consecutive starts against the Yankees.

"It's nice to hear that," Paulino said.

Not so nice for Yankees manager Joe Girardi, though.

"He's been tough on us both starts," Girardi said. "This young man has had two good starts against us. He's a power guy that changes speeds well and can throw his offspeed [pitches] behind in the count when he's in trouble. He did that to us."

Paulino also became the first Royals pitcher to throw at least 12 scoreless innings against the Yankees in a season since Tom "Flash" Gordon blanked them for 15 innings over four games in 1991.

"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."

All that, plus Yost gets his 600th victory and Moustakas gets a home run in his first Yankee Stadium at-bat. Before the game, Moustakas made a trip to center field to view the historic monuments.

"It's really cool," Moustakas said. "Coming into this park, you know all the history behind old Yankee Stadium. ... Just to play in this stadium is awesome."

And to win, no doubt, makes it even better.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.