KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Maybe it was inevitable.
For the Yankees and for Domingo German.
Things had been going remarkably well this season for both, but for one afternoon, that came to a crashing halt.
The Yankees overcame the worst start of German’s season, rallying late to force extra innings after trailing by six runs midway through the game. But a bad-hop grounder by Whit Merrifield got past Gio Urshela with two outs in the 10th inning, bringing in Billy Hamilton for an 8-7 Royals victory that ended the Yankees' winning streak at seven games.
“Not a hopeless [feeling] but it’s definitely a hard play,” said the typically sure-handed Urshela, who had made a terrific stop and throw for the second out. “The instinct is to get your glove on the ball any way possible to stop it from going by, but that didn’t happen today.”
Jonathan Holder (3-2) walked Hamilton with one out and the speedster stole second. After Urshela threw out Nicky Lopez from foul ground, Merrifield’s ground smash on the sun-baked dirt hopped past him to end it. Urshela, who was fortunate not to be hit in the face, spun to the ground as the ball whizzed by his head.
“You’re dead there,” said Aaron Boone, a former third baseman. “That’s a bad hop. I’ve been here at this place where on a day game it dries out, and you know that can come.”
Kellenberg Memorial High School product Kevin McCarthy (1-1) picked up the win with a scoreless top of the 10th.
German, who came in with an MLB-best nine victories – as well as an outstanding 2.60 ERA – was shelled for a season-worst seven runs and nine hits.
German allowed four two-out home runs that put the Yankees in a 7-1 hole: Martin Maldonado's three-run blast in the second, Ryan O'Hearn's solo drive in the fourth, a two-run shot by Hunter Dozier (four hits) in the fifth and, on the next pitch, a solo homer by Jorge Soler. German entered the day having allowed five homers in his first 10 games (nine starts).
“This is definitely a bad day for me,” German said through his translator. “I couldn’t command my pitches today, I missed on my location. That’s what happens when you miss.”
An error opened the door for the Yankees in the sixth and Gleyber Torres capitalized with two outs, hitting a three-run homer off Danny Duffy to make it 7-4.
Former Yankee Ian Kennedy allowed one-out singles by Clint Frazier (three hits) and Urshela in the ninth but struck out pinch hitter Brett Gardner on a foul tip. DJ LeMahieu’s RBI single made it 7-5 and Luke Voit walked on five pitches to load the bases for Aaron Hicks, whose two-run single to rightfield tied it at 7.
Now, the big picture.
The AL East-leading Yankees (34-18) still finished the road trip at 6-1 and have won 11 of their last 13 and 16 of their last 20. Memorial Day is an early-season benchmark for clubs and the Yankees, injuries and all, clearly are fine.
“We have a really good team,” Boone said. “We have a chance to have a special team. It’s really early in the season, though, and you just have to keep moving on and playing good baseball.”