Tyler Austin hit a pair of two-run homers, Sonny Gray pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 10-1 on Sunday to win eight consecutive series for the first time since 1998.
Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine added back-to-back homers in the ninth for the Yankees, who have won 14 of their last 15 against the AL Central.
Gray (3-3) was coming off a tough start against Oakland in which he allowed five runs and a season-high nine hits in five innings. But there was nothing tough about facing the Royals’ popgun lineup, which didn’t manage its first hit until there were two down in the fifth.
Gray wound up allowing one run while striking out five and walking one. New York is 24-1 when allowing four runs or fewer.
Eric Skoglund (1-4) gave up six runs, eight hits and two walks in five innings, the latest lousy start by the Royals’ rotation. Kansas City’s 5.51 team ERA is by far the worst in the majors.
Kansas City remains winless in six rubber games this season.
One night after the Yankees pounded five homers, including two from Gary Sanchez, it was the strong but inconsistent Austin that gave New York the lead and kept adding to it.
Skoglund had managed to avoid early trouble, nearly getting a triple play in the second inning, but walked Aaron Hicks to start the fourth. Austin turned on the first pitch he saw and sent it about 440 feet over the left-field wall — it actually went about 500 feet with the bounce.
New York tacked on two more runs, the first on Romine’s single later in the inning and the other on Hicks’ triple in the fifth, before Austin got into the act again.
This time, his two-run shot was a high fly ball that just cleared the centerfield wall.
It was the second two-homer game of the year for Austin, who also did it March 31 at Toronto. The four RBIs matched a career high, which he also accomplished April 23 against Minnesota.
That was plenty for Gray, who finally surrendered a run with two outs in the eighth. He retired his first 14 batters and only allowed two runners to reach second through the first seven innings.
The Royals wrapped their Legends Weekend celebration with Lou Piniella throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Piniella has deep ties to both clubs, having played five seasons in Kansas City and his final 11 with New York. He also spent three seasons as the Yankees’ manager.
FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
New York’s starting lineup Saturday was its first with every player under 29 since Sept. 26, 1970, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
HELLO, OLD FRIEND
Kansas City assigned RHP Michael Mariot to Double-A Northwest Arkansas. The eighth-round pick of the Royals in 2010 was signed Friday after getting released by San Diego earlier in the week.
Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (right ankle surgery) could rejoin the Yankees soon, manager Aaron Boone said, but that could lead to some tough roster decisions. “The good thing is a lot of people here put themselves in a position to make it difficult,” Boone said.
Royals: LHP Danny Duffy said he’s perfectly healthy, despite another miserable outing Saturday, and floated the idea of moving to the bullpen. Manager Ned Yost nixed that on Sunday. “That’s not happening. He’s a major league starter,” Yost said, “and yes, he’s going to make his next start.”
The Yankees head to Texas for a three-game set beginning Monday night, when RHP Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.73 ERA) will be on the mound. The Royals head across Missouri for three games with St. Louis with RHP Ian Kennedy (1-4, 4.98 ERA) starting the opener Monday night.