Yanks have another ‘big game’ against Shields

James Shields’ nickname is “Big Game,” but the Yankees are the ones who often have the big game when they face him. Such was the case again Monday night as the Yankees got off to a positive start to their significant trip that continues to Detroit and Toronto with an 8-1 victory over the American League Central-leading Royals in a makeup game from a June 9 rainout.

Despite playing without two of their most productive hitters, Brett Gardner (bruised right ankle) and Mark Teixeira (tender left hamstring), the Yankees banged out 13 hits with every member of the lineup contributing to the effort that earned them their fifth straight victory. The barrage included home runs by Stephen Drew, Martin Prado and Jacoby Ellsbury.

Ten of the hits were off Shields, who was trailing by only 2-1 going into the seventh inning when the Yanks broke things open with four runs. Prado, who has been red hot lately, started the inning with a home run. In his past nine games, Prado is batting .417 with eight runs, six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI in 36 at-bats to raise his season batting average 12 points to .272.

Singles by Chase Headley and Ichiro Suzuki were followed one out later with singles by Ellsbury and Derek Jeter and a sacrifice fly by Brian McCann. Ellsbury finished off a three-hit, three-RBI night with a two-run homer in the ninth off lefthander Francisley Bueno.

Shields was charged with six earned runs in his 6 2/3 innings. He also walked three batters and committed a costly error that led to a Yankees run in the third inning that was driven in by Jeter on an infield out. The Captain had two RBI in his final regular-season game at Kauffman Stadium where he was warmly received by the crowd of 31,758.

The loss dropped Shields’ career record against the Yankees to 9-16 with a 4.33 ERA in 195 1/3 innings. The righthander was the first of four formidable pitchers the Yankees were scheduled to face this week, followed by the Tigers’ Rick Porcello, David Price and Justin Verlander.

The offensive outburst was a welcome sight for the Yankees, who have struggled with the bat much of the season. And the way Michael Pineda pitched, not all that much offense was necessary.

In his third start since coming back from a right shoulder injury, Pineda allowed one run (on a third-inning solo homer by Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas) and five hits with no walks and five strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. Pineda is 1-0 with two no-decisions and a 2.08 ERA with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings since his return from the disabled list. He has helped fortify a rotation that has been riddled by injuries throughout the season.

David Huff, coming off a victory in relief Sunday, supplied 2 2/3 scoreless innings in support of Pineda, who earned his first winning decision since April 16.

Not to take anything away from this winning streak, but four of the victories came against the going-nowhere Astros and White Sox, but the Royals have proved a legitimate contender for a division title and playoff berth. The Yanks took three of four from Detroit three weeks ago at the Stadium, so there is no reason for them not to feel confident going into Comerica Park.

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