Yankees shut out by Royals, waste great start by Michael Pineda

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiHoward Simmons/New York Daily News Carlos Beltran leaves his bat on his shoulder, invoking memories of the 2006 NLCS, as he strikes out with the tying run on second to end the game. 

It was the same kind of visceral gut punch, though the circumstances, the final pitch and the uniforms were very different. Carlos Beltran took a third strike Friday night for the final out of a painful loss for the Yankees, and who could blame Mets fans if the sequence morphed into their own stinging flashback?

But we are years removed from 2006, and Adam Wainwright wasn’t pitching — the Royals’ Wade Davis was. And Davis threw blazing heat instead of a jaw-dropping curveball to finish off the Yankees in a 1-0 loss in front of 36,284 at the Stadium.

This wasn’t the playoffs, either, like it was when Wainwright fanned Beltran to end the NLCS, and if the Yankees keep playing like this, they’ll never get there. The Yanks’ beleaguered offense sputtered again, managing only three hits and getting shut out for the seventh time. They wasted a sparkling start by Michael Pineda, who allowed only an unearned run and three hits in seven innings.

“They’re all damaging at this point, because it just makes it that much tougher,” Joe Girardi said of the loss. Asked how many of the 23 remaining games the 72-67 Yankees have to win to snatch the American League’s second wild-card berth, Girardi replied, “I don’t have a number because you can’t predict what the teams ahead of you are going to do.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiHoward Simmons/New York Daily News Michael Pineda is fantastic, allowing only three hits and one run over seven innings, but it isn’t enough to best James Shields and Royals.

“But we’re going to have to win most of them.”

The Yankees, who had won two straight, are 4.5 games behind in the wild-card standings and it’s hard to fathom how the opener of a huge series with a playoff contender — a series that ends with Derek Jeter Day on Sunday — could produce such a stinker for the Yanks.

Blame it on Kansas City starter “Big Game” James Shields? Maybe. He did pitch very well, going 8.1 scoreless innings and allowing just three hits while striking out six. But earlier this month in K.C., the Yankees beat him.


Whatever the case, the Yankees lost one chance to damage the playoff hopes of a team that is ahead of them. A big weekend against the Royals could tilt the balance of power in the AL Central race between first-place Kansas City and Detroit.

That could only be good for the Yankees, who don’t have any remaining games against the Tigers or Mariners, the two teams ahead of them for the second wild card.

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiHoward Simmons/New York Daily News James Shields scatters three hits and zero runs over 8.1 innings.

“This is where we are, and everything’s a little bit magnified right now and you have to live with that,” Chase Headley said.

Headley has to live with his third-inning error, which led to the only run of the game. He missed Alcides Escobar’s hot grounder, and it went for a two-base error. Nori Aoki followed with an RBI single to center off Pineda (3-4).

“It hit right on my thumbpiece, on top of it,” Headley said. “I was right on the ground with it and it kicked up. If it’s an inch lower, it hits on the bottom side of my thumb and goes in my glove. It just hit on the top of it and kicked in the outfield. It sucks that that happened. I wish it hadn’t. But there’s not a whole lot you can do about it after it does.”

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiHoward Simmons/New York Daily News Royals right fielder Norichika Aoki drives in the lone run of the game.

The Yankees, who had only four baserunners and were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, had few highlights. Here’s one, which should offer an idea of what kind of offensive night it was: In the sixth, Brett Gardner hit a ball deep to right field that momentarily thrilled the crowd, but Lorenzo Cain caught it in the corner on the warning track.

Shields (13-7) started the ninth inning, but was replaced by Davis after Derek Jeter hit a one-out single to center. Jeter came out for pinch-runner Antoan Richardson, who stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position.

Davis, who has a 0.72 ERA, struck out Gardner with a 98 mile-per-hour fastball for the second out and then took on Beltran. It was the first time the men had ever faced each other, and Davis threw 98 mph gas past a looking Beltran for strike three.

“He tried to throw me some good pitches on the corner on the edges and threw me a 94 mile-an-hour cutter inside and he stayed away after that with a good fastball,” Beltran said.

“I was basically looking for a good pitch to hit. At the end of the day, he was able to win the battle.”  

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