Jeter's Triple Lifts Yankees Over Royals
KANSAS CITY (AP) -- It was the Kansas City Royals' kids -- four rookies in the infield -- against the veteran New York Yankees.
Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera came out on top.
Jeter had three hits and drove in three runs, including two with a go-ahead triple in the sixth inning, and Rivera worked a perfect ninth inning to preserve the Yankees' 7-4 victory Monday night.
"They're excited to play the Yankees," said Royals manager Ned Yost, who continues to field the youngest lineup in the major leagues. "If that's an awe factor, that's an awe factor, but I don't think so."
Rivera got rookie third baseman Mike Moustakas to ground out to Jeter in the ninth inning, and Moustakas acknowledged that it felt different to step in the box for the first time against the All-Star closer.
"The guy is Mariano Rivera. It's pretty simple," he said. "Still, at the end of the day, he's throwing the ball to me and I've got to hit it. It's a simple game at that point. Mariano is one of the best in the game at doing his job."
Like Yost, Moustakas insisted the Royals were not in awe of the Yankees.
"Honestly, we don't think about who we're playing," he said. "We get the scouting report. We get the information we need before the game. Whoever is on the other side is on the other side. At that point, we're there to win. It doesn't matter who it is. We're going out there to win ball games.
"It seems like every time we got something going, they answered right back," Moustakas added. "That's a sign of a good ball team. We put up some runs. They put up some runs. We put up a run. They put some more runs up. It's just a good battle. I felt we were in that ball game the entire way. Again, things didn't fall our way."
Moustakas also lined out to Jeter to end the second with runners on first and second.
"I wish he wasn't standing right there," he said. "I wish he was moving. Those are two big runs. I just hit it right at him. It's part of the game. It happens. I'm happy I hit the ball hard, but unfortunately right at him. "
A.J. Burnett (9-9) scattered 10 singles and a walk over 5 2/3 innings, but they only resulted in three runs. The right-hander had been winless in 13 starts in August since signing a five-year, $82.5 million deal with New York, going 0-8 with a 7.18 ERA. He even lost his last August start while still a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2008.
His late-season struggles, combined with the fact that he hadn't won since June 29 -- a stretch of seven starts -- is a big reason that manager Joe Girardi has considered dropping Burnett from the rotation.
"I thought he threw the ball pretty well," Girardi said. "He spread out his hits. He gave up a bunch of singles. He had that one inning, and he ended up getting a big double play which put an end to the inning."
Brett Gardner added a pair of RBIs, and Mark Teixeira and pinch hitter Andruw Jones also drove in runs for the Yankees (73-46), who moved back into a tie with idle Boston for the AL East lead.
Melky Cabrera and Billy Butler each drove in a pair of runs for the Royals, who lost for the eighth time in nine games. Felipe Paulino (1-5) didn't provide much help from the mound, allowing five runs on five walks and eight hits in just 5 1/3 innings, the erratic performance running his winless streak to six consecutive games.
Things began ominously for Paulino, who was pulled early from his last start against Tampa Bay when his back stiffened up. He plunked Gardner leading off the game and walked Teixeira before he escaped the inning.
Paulino wasn't as fortunate in the second, when Gardner and Jeter delivered two-out RBI singles.
The Royals squandered two decent scoring chances early, stringing together three singles in the second without a run, then putting runners on first and second with one out before a double play ended the fourth.
Kansas City finally broke through in the fifth.
Moustakas snapped a 0-for-13 skid with a one-out single, and Alcides Escobar and Alex Gordon followed with consecutive singles to load the bases. Cabrera walked on a full count to bring in the first run, and Butler lined a two-run single down the right-field line to give Kansas City the lead.
New York promptly answered the Royals' three-run inning with three of their own.
Jorge Posada, back in the lineup after a six-RBI game Saturday at Tampa Bay, singled with one out to start the sixth. Russell Martin's single put runners on the corners, and Gardner's RBI single tied the game.
Jeter came to the plate to a round of applause from a crowd split between Royals and Yankees fans, and he roped a two-run triple into the gap in right. Jeter slid headfirst into third base in dramatic fashion, even though strong-armed right fielder Jeff Francoeur didn't have much chance of throwing him out.
The Yankees added an insurance run on Jones' RBI single in the seventh. Kansas City matched it in the bottom half on Cabrera's RBI double, but Teixeira restored the three-run cushion with an RBI in the eighth.