LeMahieu and Stanton homer as the Yankees beat the Royals 5-2; Cole strikes out 10

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Gerrit Cole Yankees Royals
New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole throws during the first inning of a baseball game against Kansas City Royals, Saturday, July 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

NEW YORK (AP) — The adjustments finally are starting to pay off for New York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieu.

LeMahieu hit the go-ahead home run in the 7th inning, Gerrit Cole struck out 10 and the Yankees defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-2 on Saturday.

“Just trying to simplify,” LeMahieu said. “Some stuff I was working on right before the break. I feel like I am on the right track.”

After hitting .336 over his first two seasons in New York, LeMahieu entered Saturday batting a career-worst .232, but he has turned it around of late, hitting safely in 10 of his last 11 games.

When asked about the nature of the adjustments he’d been working on, LeMahieu joked “a little bit of everything.”

With the score tied at two, LeMahieu drove a 98 mph fastball from Royals reliever Carlos Hernandez (0-6) 402 feet into the right-center field bleachers for his first homer since June 13.

“That’s classic DJ right there – smoking a ball to right center,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “Obviously a huge hit in the game, but it’s good to see him get some traction going.”

Giancarlo Stanton homered and drove in three runs, and Anthony Volpe doubled and stole a base for the Yankees, who won their second straight game and picked up their first series win in July.

Nick Pratto homered and Brady Singer struck out nine for the Royals, who lost for the seventh time in nine games following the All-Star break.

Pitching with catcher Ben Rortvedt for the first time this season after regular catcher Jose Trevino (right wrist tear) hit the injured list Friday, Cole scattered five hits and a pair of runs across 6 1/3 innings. Trevino caught the New York ace 18 times in Cole’s first 20 starts.

“I thought that it was really fun working with Ben,” Cole said. “We made a lot of good pitches, worked out of a jam in the fifth, and stayed efficient enough to get to the seventh.”

The 32-year-old right-hander struck out 21 over his last two outings; his 10-strikeout performance Saturday marked his fourth double-digit effort of the season.

Stanton drove in New York’s first run with a sharp single in the first before hitting a two-run shot off Dylan Coleman in the eighth for his fourth homer since the All-Star Break.

The late New York rally spoiled another strong start in the Bronx for Singer, who allowed two runs over six innings. The 26-year-old has a 2.16 ERA across 16 2/3 innings with 24 strikeouts at Yankee Stadium, although he is winless across three starts. Singer struck out five straight batters before Billy McKinney’s leadoff single in the sixth.

“He pitched well,” Kansas City manager Matt Quatraro said. “He knows his strengths. He’s going to keep competing with you and he made a lot of quality pitches today.”

Wandy Peralta (3-1) threw four pitches in relief of Cole in the seventh to earn the victory.

Gleyber Torres singled and drove in a run to extend his hitting streak to 12.

Tommy Kahnle struck out two in a scoreless inning and Clay Holmes worked around a two-out single and a walk for his 13th save.

Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. had two hits but was thrown out on a bizarre play in the fourth trying to stretch his bunt single into a double. Witt’s well-placed bunt trickled down the third base line. LeMahieu touched it in fair territory, leading to Witt safely reaching first. However, in the confusion, Witt broke for second and was thrown out by Cole after the Yankees pitcher took a few steps with the ball after picking it up in foul territory.

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