NEW YORK (AP) CC Sabathia tumbled, Zach Britton struggled and Aroldis Chapman held on. After a long day, the New York Yankees were glad to leave the park with at least one win.
Greg Bird homered to begin a two-run rally in the eighth inning as the Yankees overcame a rough outing by the newly acquired Britton and a spill by Sabathia, beating the Kansas City Royals 5-4 Saturday to split their day-night doubleheader.
”Obviously, it’s not easy for us right now, we’re just going through one of those stretches,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
The Royals won the opener 10-5, tagging All-Star ace Luis Severino for six runs in 4 1/3 innings. The doubleheader was caused by a rainout Friday and the Yankees settled for a split after their relievers allowed six runs in the two games.
Bird opened the eighth with a drive off Brian Flynn (2-2) that made it 4-all and Aaron Hicks hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly.
Chapman, in his first appearance since throwing only three of 19 pitches for strikes last Saturday against the Mets, struck out Whit Merrifield to strand runners at the corners for his 27th save.
Britton, traded from Baltimore to New York on Tuesday, threw a perfect inning Thursday in his Yankees debut. After he retired the first two batters in the seventh, the Royals loaded the bases against the All-Star reliever on two hits and a walk.
Britton then walked ninth-place batter Drew Butera on four pitches, forcing home a run that put Kansas City ahead 4-3 and drawing boos from the crowd.
”You can’t walk two guys in a row on four pitches after two quick outs, it’s unacceptable,” Britton said. ”They didn’t beat me. I beat myself. That can’t happen right there.”
Two innings earlier, Sabathia fell while fielding a soft grounder. The big lefty landed awkwardly trying to make the play on the first base side of the mound, his right knee hitting the grass and creating a large divot.
”It’s good for the highlight reel,” said Sabathia, whose right knee brace jammed up on the play.
Boone and a trainer quickly checked on Sabathia, but he stayed in the game after throwing one warmup pitch. Pitching on 13 days’ rest – because of rainouts and the All-Star break – and for the first time since turning 38 last Saturday, he allowed two runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
”That’s definitely a hold your breath moment,” Boone said.
Dellin Betances (2-3) threw a scoreless eighth.
Shane Robinson gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead in the fourth when he homered off rookie Heath Fillmyer.
Salvador Perez homered for the Royals, who traded cornerstone third baseman Mike Moustakas to Milwaukee for outfielder Brett Phillips and pitcher Jorge Lopez late Friday night.
”We had opportunities but that’s a pretty dynamic pitching staff over there,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. ”We just couldn’t quite capitalize on that extra run or two that we got in the first game.”
In his third career start, Fillmyer gave up three runs on five hits in five innings.
Trying for his major league-leading 15th win, Severino instead was pulled after Lucas Duda’s two-run homer made it 6-0 in the fifth. Rosell Herera hit an early two-run double, and Perez had a two-run single that set up Duda.
Severino (14-4) allowed eight hits, in his shortest start of the year.
The Royals extended a string of rough outings for the 24-year-old anchor of the Yankees rotation. Severino has given up 19 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings over his last four starts.
”I don’t know what the issue is,” Severino said. ”I just need to work on the stuff that’s not working and try to be myself again.”
The Yankees lost in their first game since slugger Aaron Judge sustained a fractured right wrist when he was hit by a pitch from Kansas City’s Jakob Junis on Thursday.
Aided by three double plays, rookie Brad Keller (4-4) went 5 2/3 innings for the win one day after his 23rd birthday.
Royals: LHP Eric Skoglund made his second rehab start for Double-A Northwest Arkansas and allowed four runs in five innings while throwing 78 pitches. He’s been on the 60-day DL since May 26 with an elbow sprain.
Yankees: Bird was hit on the right knee in the first inning. Trainer Steve Donahue briefly checked on him, but Bird stayed in the game and flied out to the warning track in his next at-bat.
After the second game, the Yankees traded LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Giovanny Gallegos to St. Louis for 1B Luke Voit and international signing bonus pool money. Shreve allowed a run in the first game and was 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA in 40 appearances this season.
Royals: RHP Burch Smith (1-1, 5.58 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season. He earned his first win since 2013 by allowing two runs on one hit in 6 1/3 innings Tuesday against Detroit.
Yankees: LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.18) will make his debut after being acquired from Toronto on Thursday. According to Stats, he is the fourth pitcher to make starts for the Toronto and New York in the same season. The last was current Yankees broadcaster David Cone in 1995. He is 3-3 with a 4.50 ERA in seven career starts against Kansas City.