Defensive brilliance powers Yankees to victory against Royals

Anthony Volpe shows exceptional defensive display against the Royals on July 21, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

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The Yankees showcased their power with three home runs against the Royals, but it was their stellar defensive performance that ultimately secured the 5-4 victory. Defensive displays by Anthony Volpe, Oswald Peraza, and Billy McKinney stopped the Royals from taking over the game.

During the seventh inning, with the Yankees holding onto a 5-3 lead, Drew Waters crushed a Wandy Peralta changeup and sent it approximately 393 feet to center field. Billy McKinney went after the ball, jumping mid-stride at the wall, and caught it at the highest point, preventing what would have been extra bases for sure.

Billy McKinney showcased his outstanding defensive skills for the second time in the game, making a sliding catch in the left-center gap to deny Kyle Isbel a hit and end the third inning.

Billy McKinney stated that he had always believed in his ability to play center field, acknowledging that he might not have the same level of skill as players like Byron Buxton in tracking down balls. However, he feels confident that he can handle the position adequately, especially when Harrison Bader is injured. Billy McKinney also recorded three RBIs in the game, marking a season-high for him.

AP Photo/ Mary Altaffer

McKinney’s fielding stood out as particularly impressive, but the Yankees’ defense as a unit consistently delivered throughout the game.

Oswald Peraza showcased his defensive skills with several impressive plays at second base, while Anthony Volpe‘s swift decision-making in the ninth inning secured the game’s victory.

In the eighth inning, Massey’s second homer of the game brought the Royals within one run, but in the ninth, Waters managed a single against Clay Holmes and subsequently stole second base with just one out. With two outs, Bobby Witt Jr. drove a slider into the gap between the shortstop and third base.

AP Photo / Mary Altaffer

Volpe swiftly slid to reach the ball, recognizing that his only viable option was to throw to third base. He released the throw without getting up, and LeMahieu promptly applied the tag at third. After an official review, the call stood, and the play was ruled the final out of the game.

The Yankees manager praised the play as “incredibly astute,” acknowledging the outstanding efforts of his pitching staff and defense, which limited the Royals to just 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Billy McKinney’s day for the Yankees

The Yankees got their initial run from Franchy Cordero’s home run and their final run from Gleyber Torres‘ home run. But it was Billy McKinney’s performance that led the Yankees’ season to display signs of life.

In the early stages of the fourth inning, Clarke Schmidt had a moment of lapse, resulting in a three-run home run that placed the Yankees in a challenging two-run deficit. The atmosphere at Yankee Stadium turned to disbelief, and the lingering effects of their difficult road trip were evident in their first homestand of the second half.

Yankees centerfielder Billy McKinney makes a remarkable catch against the Royals on July 22, 2023, at Yankee Stadium.

In their quest for a season turnaround, the Yankees received a boost from Billy McKinney during Friday night’s game. With DJ LeMahieu earning a walk and Anthony Volpe securing a single to left field, McKinney stepped up and delivered a crucial three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning. His performance with both the bat and glove played a starring role in the Yankees’ 5-4 victory against the Royals, delighting the sellout crowd of 46,242 at Yankee Stadium.

The struggling Yankees outfielder showcased his skills with two impressive catches and broke his 15-game homer drought, providing the Yankees with a crucial lead that they managed to maintain, albeit by a narrow margin.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone praised McKinney’s performance, highlighting the excellent plays in center field and the significant impact of his homer to counter the loss of the lead due to the three-run homer. Boone mentioned that McKinney’s big swing was settling for the team and helped them regain momentum after the setback.

The Yankees’ late lead was preserved by Torres’ homer, which ultimately made the difference in the game as an insurance run.

Volpe remarked that the team needed to play better and expressed his relief at getting off the skid.

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