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Yankees beat Royals thanks to six-run, first-inning outburst

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If baseball could find a way to measure how often and how severely a team can demoralize its opponents, the Yankees would lead the league in that statistic.

Not only did they crush the Royals again, 11-5, at Kauffman Stadium, not only did they win for the 12th time in 14 games to improve to a major league-best 49-21 record, but not only did they improve to an astounding 17-1 record against AL Central teams this season.

In this season they often rip people’s hearts apart before they even begin to believe.

Jose Trevino hit a three-run homer in the first inning of the Yankees’ 11-5 win over the Royals. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

Once again, the Yankees overwhelmed the Kansas City pitchers, scoring six runs in the first inning and rendering most of the rest of Wednesday’s game meaningless.

The Yankees have won the first three of the four games, scoring in one inning each and scoring a total of 10 runs, and as a result, Aaron Boone and his team hold the lead in the series after 27 innings.

“Especially being the visiting team, we want to bat first,” said Jose Trevino, who hit a three-run homer to close out the first inning.

The Yankees have scored a combined 57 first-inning runs this year, the most in baseball, and their promising trio of Anthony Volpe, Juan Soto and Aaron Judge have somehow exceeded expectations, so their first jab could be a knockout.

Within a matter of minutes on Wednesday, the Yankees all but secured their 15th straight win against an AL Central opponent.

Alex Verdugo hit a two-run single in the first inning of the Yankees’ win. AP

Against starter Dan Altavilla, Volpe singled to center field, Soto walked on five pitches and Judge singled to right field.

After Giancarlo Stanton struck out, Alex Verdugo hit a grounder off first baseman Vinny Pasquantino’s glove for a two-run single.

A walk by Gleyber Torres led to a pitcher change and then a sacrifice fly by Anthony Rizzo.

Gleyber Torres celebrates with Anthony Rizzo after hitting a three-run home run during the Yankees’ win. AP

The finishing touch to the opening frame came from the bat of Trevino, who blasted a laser-like three-run home run that elevated the catcher’s theoretical demoralization statistic.

“Obviously a lot of good things happened in that inning, starting with Volp,” Boone said. “Everybody put in some really good at-bats. It was great to see those guys come out like that.”

It may be the first time they’ve given up six runs in the first inning since Sept. 10, 2022 against the Rays, but it’s not the first time they’ve scored first. Their .971 first inning OPS is the best in baseball, and not by a long shot. The Diamondbacks entered Wednesday’s game second with an .897 first inning OPS.

Giancarlo Stanton of the New York Yankees hits a two-run home run in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Kansas City, Missouri. AP

“It’s important to get the lead,” said Stanton, who delivered another punch with a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

In one inning this season, Volpe is batting .327 with an .871 OPS, which is clearly the worst among the Yankees’ top three.

Soto is getting on base in the first inning nearly half the time (.493 on-base percentage). Judge is even better, with a .544 on-base percentage and a 1.563 OPS.

Yankees spot starter Cody Poteet earned the win, his third of the season. Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

“It’s fun to watch,” said Cody Poteat, who pitched a solid 5 1/3 innings that held the Royals to just two runs. “It just makes you want to attack the strike zone.”

The Yankees didn’t need much from Poteet, but when his night finally got going after a long, nine-hitter in the top of the first inning, he got his job done.

Poteet, filling a hole in the rotation while Clark Schmidt was injured and Gerrit Cole was returning from injury, weathered some hiccups until Bobby Witt Jr. hit an RBI double in the sixth inning.

Giancarlo Stanton celebrated in the dugout after hitting a two-run homer in the fifth inning of the Yankees’ victory. Denny Medley – USA TODAY Sports

Poteet walked Pasquantino and was replaced by Ian Hamilton, who allowed one run on a sacrifice fly but struck out Nick Loftin to prevent further damage.

In case the Royals tried to get back into the game, the Yankees continued their offensive attack in the middle innings, first with a home run by Stanton, followed by a three-run homer by Gleyber Torres in the seventh inning, which helped the Yankees reach double figures for the second straight night.

The Royals rallied for three runs against Yankees relief pitchers in the seventh, six innings after the game was effectively over.

“Volpe, Soto, Judge, Dughey, Stanton,” Boone said. “That’s a pretty good way to start the game.”