|Yankees face Royals, trying again to reach .500|
The New York Yankees saw their offense vanish Thursday when they attempted to reach the .500 mark.
Two days later, the Yankees will get another chance to reach the break-even mark when they continue a four-game series with the Kansas City Royals on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees appeared poised to reach .500 on Thursday after two rousing wins over the Boston Red Sox. Instead, they struggled to do much off the Royals' Homer Bailey and tied a season low with one run and managed just four hits (all singles) in a 6-1 loss.
The Yankees evened the series Friday when Brett Gardner and Mike Tauchman homered off Jakob Junis in a 6-2 victory as they improved to 9-10.
New York continues to play short-handed with 12 players on the injured list. Of all the injured players, only catcher Gary Sanchez (groin) appears close to returning, though his return likely would not occur until some point on the upcoming West Coast trip.
"I feel like it's close," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Sanchez on Friday afternoon. "I don't have anything for you now, but I'm optimistic that we're real close to that."
The Royals are 5-3 since losing 10 straight, and they hope to keep running in the right direction.
Kansas City had three stolen bases Friday, upping its major-league-leading total to 24. However, the Royals were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and they scored only once after opening the sixth with consecutive doubles.
"I think anytime you get a situation like that, you always feel like it's a missed opportunity," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "No, I don't feel any different than I would anytime we miss an opportunity. It's major league baseball, man, they got guys that are pitching on the other side that make it tough to accomplish those situations."
After CC Sabathia pitched five innings for the Yankees on Friday, Masahiro Tanaka will be pitching on five days' rest for the third straight time when he starts Saturday. Tanaka took his first loss Sunday when he allowed a grand slam to Tim Anderson in the fourth inning and surrendered five runs in four-plus innings during a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
That outing snapped a modest five-game home unbeaten streak for Tanaka.
The right-hander will be making his third career start against the Royals. He has allowed eight runs on 11 hits in 12 innings in a pair of no-decisions against the Royals that occurred during the 2016 season.
Heath Fillmyer will make his third start of the season for the Royals after taking a pair of no-decisions while compiling a 9.00 ERA. He last pitched Monday in a 5-4 road loss to the White Sox when he allowed three runs and five hits in five innings.
The right-hander's lone start against the Yankees occurred July 28, 2018, in the second game of a doubleheader. He gave up three runs on five hits in five innings in a no-decision during Kansas City's 5-4 loss.
--Field Level Media