Kansas City snapped a string of 11 straight road losses by defeating the New York Yankees, 2-1, on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd of 52,187. Since 1998, the Royals had won just five of 38 previous games in the Bronx.
"You're playing a World Series-caliber team out there, and I think that actually steps up our level of play. It did at our place and I think it did here, too," Royals reliever Ron Mahay said.
Maybe. The Royals did win two of three from the Yankees in April at Kansas City. And they did play very well in this tight game.
The Royals broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning after Mike Aviles, a New York product playing in just his second big league game, got his first Major League hit. It was a double that put him at second base next to the Yankees' captain, shortstop Derek Jeter.
"He said, 'Is that your first one?'" Aviles said. "I said, 'Yeah.' He said, 'Well, congratulations.' I was like, 'Thanks.' That was first time I ever talked to him. It was pretty cool."
Even cooler was that Aviles moved to third on Joey Gathright's sacrifice bunt and scored on David DeJesus' single.
The second run off Yankees right-hander Darrell Rasner came in the sixth. This time Jose Guillen doubled and Miguel Olivo singled. As Mark Teahen rapped into a double play, Guillen trotted home for a 2-0 lead.
Right-hander Kyle Davies came up from Triple-A Omaha last Saturday and ended the Royals' 12-game losing streak. This time, with another victory, he snapped the 11-game road skid, just one shy of the franchise record.
Yankee Stadium is where last season, in his first Royals start, he gave up Alex Rodriguez's 500th home run and got beat. It's an intimidating place, especially with that short right-field porch.
"It's tough because you look over your left shoulder and you're almost on the wall out there, it seems like," Davies said. "So you keep the ball down and keep it on the ground, but it's still going to be tough."
Through six scoreless innings, Davies got nine ground-ball outs. Finally, in the seventh, the Yankees broke through for a run on Robinson Cano's double and Melky Cabrera's single.
Mahay arrived to defuse that situation. In the eighth, Mahay also escaped a two-on, two-out dilemma when Jason Giambi struck out on a 3-2 pitch -- apparently. Giambi grumbled that he checked his swing and shouldn't have been called out by plate umpire Ed Montague.
"We got to 3-2 after a few close calls and the umpire thought that he went around on that, and I lucked out, actually," Mahay said. "From what I hear, he didn't go, so maybe God was on my side tonight."
For the ninth, closer Joakim Soria came along for two strikeouts before Cabrera bumped a single into center field. Johnny Damon almost did the same, but shortstop Tony Pena, a defensive replacement for Aviles, glided behind second base for an excellent play.
"He made an amazing play," Soria said. "He saved us."
Technically, of course, the save went to Soria -- his 13th in 13 chances.
Yep, Yankee Stadium has been a chamber of horrors for the Royals in recent years. DeJesus hadn't exactly been counting the wins and losses, but he should have known by the reaction from his buddies over in New Jersey.
"I believe it. Always here I've never really had a game where the boys are like, 'Hey, you won!'" DeJesus said, laughing. "So it's always good when your friends can say, 'Congratulations on the win.'"
This was only the Royals' second victory at Yankee Stadium in the last six years against 17 losses to the Bronx Bombers.
"We know what they can do and we know what this place is all about," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Some strange things happen here."
Like the Royals winning one.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.