Joe Girardi has posted his share of 2013 lineups that seemed as if all they were missing was "no chance'' written on them.
Sometimes it has worked out that way, sometimes not. On Monday night, it looked bad and lived up to the billing.
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The Yankees got very little going against journeyman righthander Jeremy Guthrie and fell to the Kansas City Royals, 5-1, in front of 35,057 fans at the Stadium who endured stifling humidity and a 59-minute rain delay.
The Yankees threatened in each of the last three innings but wound up stranding seven runners in that span. They loaded the bases with none out in the ninth on a walk to Lyle Overbay and singles by Luis Cruz and Chris Stewart, but Greg Holland struck out Eduardo Nuñez, Brett Gardner and Zoilo Almonte for his 21st save.
"You've got a strikeout pitcher on the mound, if you look at his numbers, and that's exactly what he did,'' Girardi said of Holland, who has struck out 59 in 34 innings. "He's been pretty good for them closing the door and he did it tonight."
Guthrie (8-6) shut out the Yankees for 62/3 innings, no surprise against a lineup that featured Travis Ishikawa, Cruz, Alberto Gonzalez and Austin Romine hitting in the final four spots in the order.
"We did it in Minnesota,'' Girardi said of last week's four-game sweep. "Kind of similar to what he had tonight, we were able to do it in Minnesota so . . . Guthrie's been tough. He really kept us off-balance."
Ishikawa was signed off waivers Sunday, flew a red-eye from the Bay Area, arrived Monday and found himself in the starting lineup to give Overbay a rest at first. After Ishikawa struck out twice, Overbay pinch hit for him with two outs in the seventh and hit his 10th homer, reaching the second deck in right to bring the Yankees within 3-1.
Alex Gordon's RBI double and Alcides Escobar's RBI triple off Preston Claiborne in the ninth gave the Royals a 5-1 lead.
Meanwhile, the line on Phil Hughes in his attempt at a third straight good start: could not be determined. Hughes (4-8), who entered having allowed three runs in his last 15 innings, gave up two runs in four innings before rain ended his outing after 62 pitches.
Hughes allowed four hits, including Billy Butler's seventh home run and David Lough's RBI double, both of which came in the second inning and put the Yankees in a 2-0 hole.
After a 59-minute rain delay, Girardi chose to replace Hughes with long man Adam Warren. Generally, if a delay surpasses 45 minutes, Girardi will not send his starter back out. Warren allowed a run in the seventh on an RBI double by Johnny Giavotella, who snapped an 0-for-16 slide and gave the Royals a 3-0 lead.
Girardi noted that with Guthrie pitching to the Yankees in the fourth after the game resumed, that meant more delay time for Hughes. "I was thinking at an hour and 15 minutes, I wasn't comfortable bringing him back out," he said.
Hughes threw in the cages during the rain delay to stay loose. "It's tough,'' he said. "I felt like I maybe found something in the third and fourth innings. I was feeling pretty good, but that's baseball. Sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate. So it was kind of a tough night."
Guthrie shut out the Yankees in the first 31/3 innings and picked up where he left off after the delay. He didn't allow a run until Overbay's pinch homer with two outs in the seventh. Singles by Cruz and pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki put runners on first and third before Tim Collins struck out pinch hitter Nuñez.
The Yankees also put runners on first and third with two outs in the eighth, but Vernon Wells grounded out to second.
Gardner struck out for the 16th straight game, a franchise record. He had been tied with Alex Rodriguez and pitcher Stan Bahnsen. In those 16 games, he has struck out 22 times and is 14-for-67 to drop from .285 to .270. "He's just struggling a little bit right now,'' Girardi said. "It started in Minnesota. He was swinging the bat great before that. He's just been in a little funk right now. I can't put my finger on it."