Three innings after his defensive miscue opened the floodgates to a five-run inning that washed away the Yankees’ lead, Isiah Kiner-Falefa got it back.
The Yankees’ shortstop found redemption in the eighth inning of Friday’s 11-5 win over the Royals, coming through with the go-ahead hit against Royals closer Scott Barlow during the eight-run rally that decided the game.
“He got down two strikes and really barreled one up in the hole there,” manager Aaron Boone said of the RBI single that extended Kiner-Falefa’s career-high hitting streak to 15 games.
Before the Yankees’ late comeback, Kiner-Falefa had been in the middle of the wrong kind of rally.
Gerrit Cole was cruising until the fifth inning, when a two-out single was followed by Nicky Lopez’s hard one-hopper to shortstop. Kiner-Falefa was in position to make the play but had the ball bounce through him, allowing Lopez to reach on what was ruled a single.
“Lopez hits a ball that’s an in-between hop but a really tough chance for Izzy there,” Boone said.
After an infield single, Cole was one strike away from escaping the fifth with the shutout intact when Whit Merrifield slapped a two-run single the other way to make it 3-2. Two pitches later, Cole unleashed a 100 mph fastball at the top of the zone that Salvador Perez clobbered for a three-run shot that put the Royals ahead 5-3.
“I thought we had room up and in,” Cole said. “It’s just my fault. We have leverage there, we don’t have to throw a strike. Ultimately we threw a strike and Salvy put an incredible swing on it and we lost the lead. Just have to pick better pitches and execute better pitches.”
Cole spent much of the night shaking off catcher Kyle Higashioka, but he downplayed its effect on his outing.
“There were just some pitches I guess that I was seeing that he wasn’t really seeing,” Cole said. “I don’t think we had a lot of indecisiveness on pitches that ultimately doomed us.
“We were convicted to most of the pitches we were throwing, we just had to shake around the world a couple times to get on the same page.”
If everything goes well over the next few days, Luis Severino will begin a throwing program on Monday, Boone said. The right-hander, who has been on the injured list since July 14 with a “low-grade” right lat strain, will still likely be a few weeks away from pitching in a game once he starts throwing again.
“The progression of catch, stretching out — he’s been down a couple weeks, so I’m not sure exactly [of the timeline for return],” Boone said. “We just gotta keep progressing, making sure we’re good at every step.”
Reliever Miguel Castro, who has been on the IL since July 16 with a right shoulder strain, is “probably still at least a couple weeks away from throwing,” according to Boone.
Asked if he expects to get Castro back at some point this year, Boone said, “Yeah, it’s possible. We’ll just see.”
Pitchers Shane Greene and Ryan Weber, who had each recently elected free agency after getting designated for assignment, re-signed with the Yankees on Friday and were assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.