Royals 12, Yankees 9
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP)—The game that set the American League record for most doubles ended in the most appropriate possible way.
“A double play,” Royals third baseman Joe Randa said, “was the only way to finish that game.”
Yankees starter David Wells lasted only three innings in his shortest outing of the season. He was set to return to New York for tests on his back.
“It’s a continuing problem he has. It’s somewhere in the lower back,” pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. “I’m not a medical person, so I can’t say much more.”
The teams broke the AL mark of 18 doubles by Cleveland and Minnesota on July 13, 1996. The major league record is 23 by St. Louis and the Chicago Cubs on July 12, 1931.
DiFelice drove in three runs as the Royals won their third in a row, taking advantage of the Yankees’ battered bullpen to send New York to its third straight loss.
Four relievers followed Wells, and each of them gave up at least a run. On Sunday, Seattle scored against all four New York relievers.
Wells came in with a 12-3 record and a 3.69 ERA.
“He had a real good warmup,” manager Joe Torre said. “It’s worrisome because he’s been pitching through it the last probably three starts and he’s been able to fight his way through it. Tonight, he wasn’t.”
“It’s just one of those wild nights that can’t be explained in baseball,” said Randa. “I promise you, nobody comes to the plate planning to hit doubles. They just happen.”
The Yankees had not lost in Kauffman Stadium since Sept. 6, 2000. They had swept the three-game series at Kansas City each of the past two seasons.
This matchup between division leaders drew a season-high crowd of 40,406— just 379 short of capacity and almost unheard of in Kansas City so late in the year.
The level of noise and energy was reminiscent of the ’70s and early ’80s when the Royals and Yankees so often clashed in meaningful late-season showdowns.
“It was almost like a Monday night football game out there,” said Randa. “When you have that much electricity in the stadium, it’s almost like opening day every inning.”
Prinz arrived in the middle of the game and had a disastrous debut for the Yankees. Sweeney greeted him with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth, Randa followed with an RBI double and after an intentional walk, DiFelice also doubled.
The Royals broke the team mark of nine doubles. In all, 14 different players in the game hit doubles.
“It’s just a freak night,” said Sweeney. “But we got a win. Every night’s been a new hero.”
Kansas City took an 8-6 lead in the sixth when Aaron Guiel hit a two-run double off Sterling Hitchcock (1-3) and Angel Berroa followed with an RBI double as the Royals beat New York for just the second time in 13 games.
Hideki Matsui had an RBI single in the seventh to bring the Yankees to within 8-7. Matsui finished a triple short of the cycle.
The winner was D.J. Carrasco (4-4) who pitched 1 2-3 innings of hitless relief.
The Yankees took a 5-1 lead in the third on Jason Giambi’s league-leading 34th home run off Paul Abbott.
But Wells, who gave up a run on Sweeney’s RBI double in the first, uncharacteristically walked two batters as Kansas City scored four in the bottom of the third and tied it 5-all.
“You could tell me was kind of struggling out there,” said Randa.
Wells was replaced starting the fourth by Hitchcock, who was given a 6-5 lead when Matsui hit his 15th home run in the fifth.
Abbott, making his first major league start since May 5, 2002, with Seattle, went 4 2-3 innings. The right-hander, who underwent shoulder surgery on June 28, 2002, gave up six runs on nine hits.
After Giambi’s homer in the third, Randa got the Royals going in the bottom half with an RBI single. Desi Relaford followed with an RBI double and DiFelice hit with a two-run double.
Wells, who had walked more than one batter in a game only twice this year,gave up five runs on six hits, with one strikeout and two walks.
The Yankees have hit 18 home runs in their last nine games. … Royals’ trainer Nick Swartz was accidentally hit on the side of the head during batting practice with a ball thrown by manager Tony Pena. Swartz was talking to general manager Allard Baird and Pena was playing catch when the ball got away from him and hit the screen above where Swartz was sitting. It bounced down onto his head and left a large red spot. … The Yankees put Osuna on bereavement leave so he could fly home to Mexico, where his mother was scheduled for heartsurgery.