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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At the end of April, the Yankees find themselves in first place with an eight-game winning streak — and an ace who seems to be finding his form.
Gerrit Cole had a second straight scoreless start and the Yankees’ offense scraped together enough runs for a 3-0 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday night.
Cole, whose ERA was 6.35 after his first three outings, wasn’t dominant, but he was effective in pitching with Jose Trevino behind the plate again.
Prior to the game, manager Aaron Boone said the pairing of Cole (2-0) and Trevino wasn’t permanent and that it was more a matter of scheduling.
We’ll see if the Yankees decide to keep the duo together after Cole struggled when throwing to the typically reliable Kyle Higashioka.
“I’m completely comfortable with however it falls,” Boone said of who catches Cole.
He called Trevino’s work with Cole “seamless” from what Higashioka has built with the right-hander.
Much of how the Yankees have looked lately has been seamless. They have won nine of their last 10 and own the best record in the American League (15-6).
After scoring double-digit runs in four of five games for the second time since 1955 and first time since 2002, the Yankees’ offense had a more modest output on Saturday.
The Yankees had the bases loaded and no one out in the top of the second after Gleyber Torres led off with a single to left, Aaron Hicks walked and Joey Gallo added a base hit to right.
When Isiah Kiner-Falefa grounded into a double play, Torres scored to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead, but that was the only run they came away with.
The Yankees had the bases jammed again in the third, with some help from third base umpire CB Bucknor. After Josh Donaldson drew a one-out walk, Anthony Rizzo appeared to fail to check his swing at a 2-2 pitch, but Bucknor ruled he held up and Rizzo walked on the next pitch.
Giancarlo Stanton singled to bring up Torres, who hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0. Rizzo, however, was thrown out trying to steal third to end the threat.
Cole cruised into the third, when Edward Olivares reached on an infield hit to short with one out. Nicky Lopez fouled out before Cole issued two straight four-pitch walks to Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi.
Following a visit from pitching coach Matt Blake, Salvador Perez swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded to short to keep the Royals scoreless.
The Yankees got more traffic on the bases in the fourth with a leadoff walk to Aaron Hicks and an infield single by Gallo. Hicks moved to third on the throw, which allowed him to score on a sacrifice fly by Kiner-Falefa.
In the sixth, the Yankees failed to capitalize on a scoring chance.
Singles by Torres and Hicks opened the inning before Tim Locastro (who replaced Gallo after the left fielder was removed with a tight left groin), lined out, Kiner-Falefa grounded out and Trevino popped out.
Cole allowed just three singles and a pair of walks until the sixth, when Carlos Santana singled and went to third on a Hunter Dozier double with one out.
Cole responded by striking out rookie Bobby Witt, Jr. and Kyle Isbel looking.
Miguel Castro entered to start the bottom of the seventh and with two on and one out, Benintendi hit a line drive to Rizzo at first. Rizzo threw to second to double off Olivares.
Clay Holmes pitched into and out of trouble in the eighth.
Aroldis Chapman, who hadn’t pitched since Tuesday, came in for the ninth. After some trouble with the PitchCom technology, Chapman closed it out for his fifth save.