Kansas City, Mo. — The question was lobbed at Royals manager Ned Yost as he was wrapping up his postgame news conference after an 8-1 loss to the New York Yankees on Monday night.
“After scuffling two straight days, are you concerned about the offense?”
“Oh yeah,” Yost replied, dripping with sarcasm as thick as syrup.
The only damage the Royals could muster against Michael Pineda came on a solo homer by Mike Moustakas. Otherwise, Kansas City went quietly in the makeup of a game rained out in June, losing back-to-back games for the first time since late July.
The Royals’ lead in the AL Central is down to 1 ½ games over the second-place Tigers, who open a three-game series with Yankees Tuesday at Comerica Park.
“Pineda was really good tonight,” Yost said. “He’s got a 94 mph fastball. He has a really good changeup. … He had two different types of breaking balls, a real hard slider that cut and a slurvy, slower breaking ball that was really, really good. He pitched a great game.”
Pineda (3-2) retired 10 straight after the homer by Moustakas, and wound up striking out five without a walk over 6 1-3 innings. That was enough for his first win since April 16.
“He’s got so much cut on his fastball,” catcher Brian McCann said. “I feel like he could literally throw it every pitch and be successful. When he’s like that, he’s as good as anybody.”
Jacoby Ellsbury drove in a run in the seventh inning with the 1,000th hit of his career, then added a two-run homer in the ninth. Derek Jeter added a pair of RBIs in his final scheduled trip to Kauffman Stadium, and Stephen Drew and Martin Prado had solo home runs.
“It’s nice when you have a lot of people contribute,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
James Shields (12-7) allowed six runs over 6 2/3 innings for Kansas City.
“We’ve been playing really, really good baseball the last month or so. We’re definitely not going to let just one little game take care of us,” Shields said. “We’re going to move onto this next series and hopefully we’ll win it.”
If you’re willing to count the makeup game against New York as a true series, it was the first time in their last 11 that the Royals have dropped one.
“It’s going to happen,” outfielder Alex Gordon said. “We’ll bounce back. We’ll be OK.”
Jeter, who is retiring after the season, answered a standing ovation as he stepped to the plate in the third inning with a groundout to shortstop that gave New York a 1-0 lead.
Moustakas tied the game with his 15th homer in the bottom half.
Drew gave the Yankees the lead back in the fourth with his home run, and they piled on four more runs off Shields in the seventh to put things out of reach.
The last of the runs was scored by Ellsbury, who came home on a sacrifice fly by McCann. Ellsbury initially was ruled out at the plate, but the call was overturned after a 2-minute video review showed his left leg sliding just under catcher Salvador Perez’s tag.
Still, the Royals lead the AL Central by 1 ½ games over idle Detroit. So when Yost was asked whether the loss was an easy one to flush, he replied this time without a hint of sarcasm.
“Absolutely,” he said.