Royals can't hold off Yankees

Royals can't hold off Yankees

NEW YORK -- Uh-oh. The Royals are 0-for-New York. Again.

You just hope the Royals had time to enjoy "The Odd Couple" or a dinner at Smith & Wollensky's or at least a walk through Grand Central Station (hey, they were staying at a hotel right over it).

Just about anything would have beat a trip to Yankee Stadium where visits have been anything but enjoyable. The latest loss came on Thursday, 9-3, with 54,381 fans witnessing the disappointment. (Excuse me, sir, is this Yankee Stadium or Fort Apache The Bronx?)

Let's see. When the Yankees swept the latest three-game series, it was the 14th straight loss here for the Royals. In those games, they've been outscored, 111-55.

"Who's the last pitcher to beat the Yankees?" injured Royals captain Mike Sweeney wondered.

Answer: Runelvys Hernandez in 2002. Well, perhaps he'll get another shot when the Royals get a rare return visit (oh, joy!) on May 26-28. Hernandez is currently occupied pitching for Triple-A Omaha.

Did we mention that, since the 2000 season, the Royals are 2-22 in Yankee Stadium? They are, and Sweeney is the only guy who's been with the club that long. And he couldn't do anything about it, not with an ice pack on his bruised and battered right hand.

At least the Royals, after the latest trip, could flee to Florida.

"Yeah," manager Buddy Bell said. "We didn't catch these guys at a real good time. We obviously didn't pitch very well and the big, big reason for that is they've got guys that are extremely hot."

As if the Yankees are ever cold when the Royals come visiting.

On Thursday, a fine afternoon of 73 degrees, the Yankees unlimbered against right-hander Denny Bautista with four runs -- using a solo homer by Gary Sheffield in the first inning and a quartet of stinging singles in the second.

"They're swinging the bats. We didn't throw strikes when we had to and they make you pay," Bell said. "So, yeah, this is a good time to get out of here."

Left-hander Randy Johnson was extinguishing the Royals like he had a fire to go to. Up and down they went, with only three singles -- by Doug Mientkiewicz, Esteban German and Shane Costa -- interrupting his tempo.

"They're swinging the bats. We didn't throw strikes when we had to and they make you pay. So, yeah, this is a good time to get out of here."
-- Buddy Bell

The Big Unit came out after five innings due to some sort of stiffness, the exact location was left vague. But the bullpen finished the job in good order.

After Tony Graffanino whacked a solo shot in the eighth, cutting the lead to 4-2, the Yankees decided to jump on Royals reliever Jimmy Gobble with spikes bared.

Jason Giambi clobbered Gobble with a two-run homer. Then Johnny Damon burned him with a three-run shot, his first homer for the Yanks.

Gobble definitely was disheartened by his uninspiring inning.

"I've got to do a better job of locating," he said. "That's part of baseball. ... But, basically, you come in and screw it up. I'm going to work on it and the next time he calls on me, I'm going to do the job."

Shall we look for a positive? Hey, the Royals pitchers only walked three after doling out 17 walks in the first two losses. Naturally, the Yankees just thumbed their noses and did even better, walking just one.

So it was one, two, three losses in the Bronx. For the Reader's Digest version, let's listen to catcher John Buck.

"We had 'em beat in the first game. The second game we beat ourselves. Then today we were just flat," he said.

OK, he used more words than that but edited brevity will do until the Royals can finally inspire a tablet flowing with victorious prose from New York. If they ever revive "Damn Yankees" on Broadway, the Royals could stand in for the Washington Senators.

"We're still trying to get to their level," Bell said, meaning the Yankees, not the Senators. "We're not quite there yet. But we'll get there."

And when they do....Sweetheart, get me rewrite. I've got a really big scoop. Dateline New York....

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.