One day after snapping a 13-game losing streak, the Royals look to capture their first series in the Bronx in nearly seven years when they meet the New York Yankees on Saturday.
Kansas City (11-35) hasn’t won a series in the Bronx since Aug. 17-19, 1999. Damon—now the Yankees’ leadoff hitter—went 4-for-12 in that series for the Royals, who also had Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye in their lineup for a club that lost 97 games.
That would be satisfying for the Royals at their current pace, since they are challenging the marks of some of the worst teams in baseball. Their 10-35 start was better than only three teams—the 9-36 starts of the 2003 Tigers, 1988 Orioles and 1932 Red Sox.
Kansas City ended its season-long slide with a 7-6 victory on Friday. Angel Berroa hit a tie-breaking three-run homer in the eighth inning and the Royals had to wait out a 1 hour, 48 minute rain delay before halting a ninth-inning rally by the Yankees.
New York (26-20) pulled within a run on Gary Sheffield’s RBI single that left runners on the corners with one out. Royals reliever Andrew Sisco entered and induced Jason Giambi to ground into a game-ending double play for his first career save.
Giambi had been 7-for-12 with nine RBIS this season against Kansas City prior to that at-bat.
Kansas City ended a 14-game losing streak at Yankee Stadium and improved baseball’s worst road record to 3-20.
“It feels great,” manager Buddy Bell said. “I know the way things have been going lately. You keep thinking positive. It worked out fine.”
The loss spoiled a milestone for Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who recorded his 2,000th career hit with an infield hit in the fourth. He’s the eighth player in franchise history to reach the milestone.
“A hit’s a hit,” Jeter said, “but we should have won this game. We let a couple of opportunities get away.”
New York will send Chien-Ming Wang (4-2, 4.43 ERA) to the mound. Wang was roughed up for season highs of seven runs and nine hits over six-plus innings in a 9-5 loss to Boston on Monday.
The right-hander had been 3-0 with a 2.65 ERA over his five previous starts.
Wang is making his second start of the year against Kansas City. He gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings and did not receive a decision in a 9-7 victory on April 11.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has converted his last 18 save chances against Kansas City since Aug. 18, 1998, posting a 0.72 ERA during that stretch.
Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt (2-4, 6.51) will make his second start at New York this season for the Royals. Affeldt gave up six runs and seven hits over 3 1-3 innings in a 12-5 loss on April 12.
The left-hander matched career highs by surrendering eight runs and 11 hits in a 8-0 loss to Detroit on Monday. He’s had trouble against right-handed hitters, who are batting .303 against him.
The Yankees are 11-3 against left-handed starters this season.