Billy McKinney steals the show as Yankees end 4-game losing streak with win over Royals

22 July 2023

Billy McKinney stepped up Friday night as the Yankees’ unlikely hero, using his bat and glove to help New York end a four-game losing streak and avoid another loss to a last-place team.

The journeyman McKinney, who spent the season’s first two months at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, slugged a three-run home run in the fourth inning to put the Yankees up for good in their 5-4 win over the lowly Royals.

Filling in for the banged-up Harrison Bader in center field, McKinney also made a sliding catch in the third inning and a leaping grab against the wall in the 7th to rob Kansas City of extra-base hits.

The Royals had taken a 3-1 lead on a Michael Massey three-run homer in the top of the fourth when McKinney answered with his blast over the right field wall in the bottom of the frame.

Franchy Cordero and Gleyber Torres also hit solo homers. All three of the Yankees’ homes came against Royals rookie Alec Marsh, who was making his fourth career start.

The Yankees overcame an uneven outing by starting pitcher Clarke Schmidt, who retired the first nine Royals hitters but ultimately surrendered three runs in 5.2 innings. Yankees relievers Wandy Peralta, Michael King, Tommy Kahnle and Clay Holmes combined to pitch 4.1 innings of one-run ball to finish off the game.

The win over the Royals — who, at 28-71, are the second-worst MLB team — was much-needed for the Yankees, who were coming off a disastrous road trip in which they dropped two of three to the NL-worst Rockies before being swept by the middling, Mike Trout-less Angels. New York also lost series this month to the Cardinals, who were in last place in the NL Central at the time, and the Cubs, who are also below .500.

Friday was the Yankees’ first home game since the All-Star break — and their first time wearing Starr Insurance patches on their jersey sleeves as part of a corporate sponsorship.

McKinney originally debuted with the Yankees in 2018, but he only played two games with them before being traded to the Blue Jays that season. He also played with the Brewers, Mets, Dodgers and A’s before returning to the Yankees.

The 28-year-old McKinney continues to provide a spark for an embattled Yankees outfield that’s missing reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge, who suffered a torn ligament in his right big toe on June 3. McKinney is hitting .247 — well above his .209 career average — with a .793 OPS. His home run Friday was his fifth of the season.

Bader left Wednesday’s game against the Angels with bruised ribs after being hit by a pitch, but manager Aaron Boone said before Friday’s game that he was doing well. Bader could have been an option off the bench, Boone said, but he did not play.

The Yankees dropped nine of their previous 11 games entering Friday and had only scored more than four runs in three games over that stretch.

A win over the Royals on Saturday or Sunday would give the Yankees their first series victory of July. All-Star Game starter Gerrit Cole, who is 9-2 with a 2.78 ERA this season, is scheduled to pitch Saturday afternoon against Kansas City’s Brady Singer, who is 6-8 with a 5.70 ERA.


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