The Yankees these days are like a rickety jalopy — a strange combination of odd-fitting parts and a whole lot of duct tape, all coming together in an attempt to keep going in a season already so full of adversity.
It isn’t always pretty — one look at Sunday’s lineup would have shown you that — but at least it’s getting this team where it needs to go.
On Sunday, that meant Austin Romine driving in the tying run in the eighth and the winning run in the 10th in a 7-6 victory over the Royals. It meant Clint Frazier hitting his second homer in as many games. And it meant overcoming a bullpen implosion that allowed six runs in the eighth to squander a 5-0 lead, canceling out a second consecutive gem by James Paxton.
The Ramshackle Yankees — with 13 players, the latest being Aaron Judge, on the injured list — have won five of six.
Other key contributors: Mike Ford, who doubled for his first major-league hit and scored on the first of Romine’s three RBI singles; Thairo Estrada (called up Sunday morning), who bunted to set up the winning run, and Mike Tauchman, who had two hits and scored two runs while batting fifth, the highest he’s ever been slotted in his brief big-league career.
“It’s not always going to be perfect, and I think you need to embrace that,” Aaron Boone said. “Get comfortable being uncomfortable. For looking like we were going to cruise, a lot of good things [had to] happen for us to snatch that game back, and you could feel that energy in the room on a win like that.”
After Tauchman and Gio Urshela walked to begin the 10th, Estrada made his first major-league plate appearance and bunted them over. Romine then belted a long single to right-center for his first career walk-off hit.
Two innings earlier, moments after the Royals had scored six runs to take the lead, Tauchman led off with a double and scored the tying run on Romine’s two-out single past the dive of third baseman Chris Owings.
“It’s a big swing. We’re up 5-0 and we go down one, but nothing really that caught us off guard,” Romine said. “We’ve got to do our jobs in the end, so it was grind, fight back, find some way to win this game. We were able to scrap.”
The Yankees (11-10) were cruising until the eighth, when Chad Green and Adam Ottavino turned a 5-0 lead into a 6-5 deficit in the span of six batters. Green allowed a single, a walk and another single before Ottavino gave up a two-run double by Adalberto Mondesi. Alex Gordon followed with a tying three-run homer to right-center and Hunter Dozier homered to right-center on the next pitch.
That collapse led to a no-decision for Paxton, who despite not having that dominant fastball from his previous start nonetheless kept hitters off balance with his breaking ball and cutter. He allowed no runs, three hits and a walk in six innings-plus and struck out 12, including eight of nine at one point. In his last two starts, he has allowed no runs and five hits and struck out 24 in 14 innings, lowering his ERA from 6.00 to 3.10.
DJ LeMahieu led off the first with a double and scored on a passed ball. In the second, Ford lined a two-out double to left-center and scored on Romine’s single. In the fifth, Frazier launched his sixth homer 429 feet over the Royals’ bullpen and into the bleachers to make it 5-0.
“Like we keep saying, next guy up,” Frazier said. “It’s just one of those things. Which guy is going to be the hero tonight, who’s it going to be that steps up?”