KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JUNE 13: Anthony Rizzo #48 of...

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - JUNE 13: Anthony Rizzo #48 of the New York Yankees celebrates an eighth inning home run against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on June 13, 2024 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) Credit: Getty Images/David Eulitt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Anthony Rizzo, as bad as it's been for him at the plate pretty much all season, has said for several weeks he feels “close” to a breakout.

Evidence, perhaps, finally started to show in the last three games of a four-game series against the Royals that ended with Thursday’s 4-3 walk-off loss.

After sitting – or, more accurately, being sat - by manager Aaron Boone in order for the veteran to clear his head Sunday and Monday, Rizzo returned to the lineup Tuesday and went 0-for-5 to extend his slump to 1-for-34. But he singled on Wednesday, and hit two other balls hard, then homered Thursday, his first since May 10, in the eighth inning to help spark a three-run inning. Rizzo, who has reached base in 47 of his 67 games, went a span of 107 at-bats between homers.

The rally gave the Yankees, who trailed 2-0 going into the eighth, a 3-2 lead, one Clay Holmes failed to hold.

“Feel like a couple of good swings the last few days, so definitely feels good to do that, to get us going there in the eighth,” Rizzo said. “It just shows about our team, we’re down with not much going and we score three runs there to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Could those swings help the 34-year-old to get going?

“I hope so,” said Rizzo, now hitting .223 with eight homers and a .626 OPS. “Definitely feel like I’m in a better spot. I’ve been feeling that, so one day at a time and one at-bat at a time.”

Boone, encouraged after Wednesday’s game, was even more so after Thursday’s.

“Good to see him put together a couple more good at-bats today,” Boone said. “A walk, homer, coming off some better at-bats yesterday. So just hopefully something that continues to build for Anthony.”

Making his mark

Emerging Royals star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who turns 24 on Friday, went 2-for-3 with a walk Thursday, capping an 8-for-16 series. Witt, a shoo-in to represent the Royals in next month’s All-Star game is hitting an AL-leading .330. He’s already established himself as a Yankee killer, going 20-for-54 (.370) in 14 games.

Extra bases

Boone said Gerrit Cole (right forearm inflammation) is slated to throw in the “65-70 range” of pitches Friday in what will be his third rehab start. Boone has said the organization has not ruled out having Cole continue his buildup in the majors, though the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner will have a major say in that and, as of Thursday, that determination had not yet been made…Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Thursday to snap a season-high 37-game on-base streak, which dated to May 2. It was the longest such streak by any major leaguer this season and the second-longest streak of Judge’s career, second to the 45-game streak he put together from Aug. 29, 2022-April 12, 2023.

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