Rizzo hits 1st HR since May 20, Yankees sweep Royals 8-5

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Anthony Rizzo Yankees Royals
New York Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo hits a home run during the third inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Sunday, July 23, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

NEW YORK (AP) — Anthony Rizzo hit his first home run since May 20 and went 4 for 4 as the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 8-5 on Sunday to complete their third series sweep of the season.

Gleyber Torres’ two-run homer sparked New York’s four-run first inning against Jordan Lyles (1-12). Torres extended his hitting streak to a career-high 13 games but exited in the seventh because of left hip tightness.

Luis Severino (2-4) won for the first time in four starts since June 24.

Rizzo also hit an RBI double in the first and singled in the fifth before capping a 10-pitch at-bat with a single in the eighth against Scott Barlow. It was Rizzo’s 15th career four-hit game and first since Aug. 4, 2019.

“I loved how he finished up the day with Barlow there, a long at-bat and maybe his best swing of the day, the ball he smoked back through the middle,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “So that’s him in position, on time and his contact right. Obviously he was able to do that all day, but really happy for him.”

Rizzo raised his batting average nine points to .253 and helped the Yankees win three straight for the first time since a four-game streak May 27-30. His big game came after he snapped an 0-for-20 skid Saturday — a day after taking swings off a tee on the field in early batting practice with new hitting coach Sean Casey.

“It’s just sticking to a routine and tweaking, making little tweaks here and there,” Rizzo said. “This game is such (about) feel. You could take a thousand swings and it could go the opposite way and you can take three swings and feel like miles and miles of success. So it’s just all part of it.”

Harrison Bader punctuated New York’s early burst with an RBI single and the Yankees took all three games from last-place Kansas City for their first series sweep since winning three times in Cincinnati from May 19-21.

New York improved to 18-22 without slugger Aaron Judge, who faced 16 pitches from rehabbing reliever Jonathan Loáisiga before the game as they both work their way back from injuries.

The Yankees held a four-run lead when Rizzo batted with one out in the third. After fouling off two pitches, the first baseman homered into the lower rows of the right-center seats.

Rizzo carried his bat about halfway up the line before calmly dropping it and starting his trot. Teammates gave him the silent treatment and then mobbed him at the end of the dugout to celebrate Rizzo’s 12th homer.

“It was all good fun,” designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton said. “We know everything going into that homer.”

Rizzo had gone 187 plate appearances and 166 at-bats since connecting off Cincinnati reliever Ian Gibaut. Rizzo’s 45-game homerless drought was one shy of his career high, which lasted from June 2011 to June 2012 with the Padres and Cubs.

The Yankees added three in the eighth on Oswald Peraza’s infield single and a throwing error by Kansas City first baseman Nick Pratto ahead of a sacrifice fly by Kyle Higashioka.

Salvador Perez hit a solo homer to end an 0-for-16 skid and Michael Massey launched a two-run shot off Severino, who allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Freddy Fermin and Kyle Isbel homered in the ninth off Ron Marinaccio, but the Royals lost their fifth straight.

“It’s nice to crawl back into it and make them work a little bit,” manager Matt Quatraro said.

Lyles, the major league leader in losses, gave up five runs and nine hits in five innings. The Royals are 1-18 in his starts.

For more on the Yankees, visit AMNY.com