- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Yankees’ Michael Pineda kept throwing his slider in the dirt. The Royals kept laying off it. Eventually, taking away one of the right-hander’s best pitches paid off.

Kansas City pounded Pineda for five runs, knocking him out of the game during a six-run sixth inning Friday night, and rolled the rest of the way to a 12-1 victory over New York to open a three-game series between division leaders.

Pineda (5-1), coming off a masterful 16-strikeout performance against Baltimore, only struck out one pesky Royals hitter while matching a career worst with 10 hits allowed.

“You take away from someone one of their big pitches and it’s going to be more difficult,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’ve seen other teams approach him aggressively.”

Pineda said he felt great before the game. He just couldn’t locate that slider.

“It’s not my day,” he said. “These games happen sometimes.”

No, this day belonged to Chris Young and the Royals.

Lorenzo Cain had a career-high five RBIs, Kendrys Morales drove in three more runs and just about everyone in the Kansas City lineup took their shots against Pineda and the New York bullpen.

“We swung the bat well as a team tonight,” Cain said. “That’s all you can ask for.”

Young (3-0) allowed just four hits and two walks over 5 2-3 innings in his third solid spot start. The 6-foot-10 veteran is replacing injured Jason Vargas in the rotation.

“We just take it day by day,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, when asked about his rotation going forward. “If we run into an issue in a certain area, we definitely have him available.”

Pineda hung tough through the first five innings, the only damage an RBI single by Cain in the first inning and a sacrifice fly by the Royals outfielder in the fourth.

Brian McCann had a sacrifice fly for New York in the top of the fourth inning.

Everything unraveled for the AL East-leading Yankees in the fifth, though. The Royals sent 11 batters to the plate, pounded out six hits and churned through Pineda and two relievers.

Omar Infante and Paulo Orlando drove in runs to start the onslaught, and Cain added a two-run single off Justin Wilson later in the inning. By the time Morales and Alex Gordon drove in runs, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was probably getting fatigued walking to the mound.

Jose Ramirez, just recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, finally got the Yankees out of the inning. But by then, the AL Central-leading Royals had pushed their lead to 8-1.

The only drama left was whether Mike Moustakas would hit for the cycle.

The Kansas City third baseman tripled, doubled and singled his first three times at bat. He grounded out in the sixth, but brought a crowd of 34,584 to its feet when he sent a fly ball down the left-field line in the seventh that bounced just a few feet from the top of the wall.

He wound up with an RBI double, giving him four hits for the fourth time in his career.

“We just played a great game tonight,” Moustakas said. “Cycle or no cycle, we just played a really good game.”

GOING STREAKING

The Royals’ Eric Hosmer had a single in the fifth inning, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. … The Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 2 with a pair of walks. He had hit safely in 15 of his last 16 games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Chase Whitley (elbow sprain) went on the DL. He will be evaluated again by team physician Christopher Ahmad on Monday before deciding whether to have Tommy John surgery. … RHP Masahiro Tanaka (wrist tendinitis) threw 35 pitches in the bullpen before the game. The Yankees still have not set a date for a rehab assignment.

Royals: RF Alex Rios (fractured hand) continues to hit off a tee, though it’s unclear when he will return. … Vargas played catch before the game. He expects to throw a bullpen session soon.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia (1-5) is coming off his first win of the season at Tampa Bay.

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (2-2) tries to bounce back from two straight lousy starts.


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