Royals-Yankees Preview

The Associated Press

There has been a significant power outage in the New York Yankees' lineup the last week.

A matchup with Kansas City's Luke Hochevar, however, might be just what the Bronx Bombers need to get on track.

The sputtering Yankees again hope to break out of their prolonged slump and avoid losing four straight games for the first time this season Tuesday night when they face Hochevar, a pitcher they knocked around just two weeks ago.

With a 6-0 setback to the Royals in Monday's series opener, New York (21-21) lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped into a tie with Boston for last place in the AL East. A punchless offense has been the biggest reason for the tailspin, as the Yankees are averaging 2.1 runs and batting .211 in their last seven contests.

New York had several chances to generate some offense Monday, but failed to get a hit in all 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position. This has been an ongoing problem for the Yankees, who are 6 for 72 (.083) with runners in scoring position in their last nine games.

"It's not a lot of fun obviously going out and not getting the job done," Alex Rodriguez said. "But at this point, nobody's going to feel sorry for us.''

There are several culprits for the team's offensive woes, with Nick Swisher batting .111 with one RBI in the last seven games, Rodriguez hitting .182 with one RBI in the last six and Mark Teixeira batting .188 with an RBI in the past five. Joe Girardi dropped Teixeira into the No. 7 spot in the batting order Monday.

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

It certainly seems New York could get its offense in gear Tuesday against Hochevar (3-4, 7.02 ERA), owner of the majors' third-worst ERA.

The Yankees have already contributed to Hochevar's inflated ERA, reaching him for seven runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 10-4 loss on May 6. Robinson Cano hit a grand slam, while Swisher had a solo shot.

That wasn't the only time New York hit Hochevar hard. In his previous start against the Yankees on Sept. 28, 2009, the right-hander was tagged for eight runs and 12 hits in six innings of an 8-4 loss.

Cano is 5 for 10 with two homers and a double lifetime against Hochevar, who last pitched Thursday against Baltimore, yielding four runs and seven hits in six innings of a 5-3 loss.

Scheduled starter Phil Hughes (3-5, 5.23) opposed Hochevar two weeks ago at Kauffman Stadium, allowing three runs, six hits in 6 2-3 innings to get the win. He struck out a season-high seven and walked one to win his third straight start over the Royals.

That outing in Kansas City earlier this month marked a turning point for Hughes, who had an 8.47 ERA in his first four starts. He has a 2.75 ERA in his last three. Against Toronto on Thursday, he gave up two runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, but didn't receive much help from his offense and was saddled with a 4-1 loss.

Mike Moustakas led Kansas City's offense Monday with a two-run homer - his third in seven games - to help the Royals win their fifth straight road contest. This is Kansas City's longest road winning streak since reeling off eight in a row in September 2008.

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