The ball representing the final out of Monday’s historic back-and-forth battle thudded into the pocket of Luke Voit’s glove and the first baseman immediately sought out the teammate who’d thrown it, embracing Rougned Odor in an exaggerated bear hug.
This one had been, Voit said, “a grind.” After the bullpen blew four late leads, DJ LeMahieu and Brett Gardner roped 11th-inning hits for the final blows of a hard-fought, unforgettable 8-6 Yankees victory over the Royals on Monday at Kauffman Stadium.
“It was the definition of a team win,” said Voit, who drove in the game’s first run with a seventh-inning single and homered in the ninth. “Everybody on the lineup card got the job done. Obviously, we had some ups and downs, but we kept fighting back. Luckily, we came out with the win.”
It was the first game in Major League history in which both teams scored in the seventh, eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Kansas City became the first team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to erase a deficit in innings seven, eight, nine and 10.
LeMahieu opened the 11th with a run-scoring double off Greg Holland. Gardner then picked up a two-run single on a sharply hit grounder that took a nasty deflection off shortstop Nicky Lopez and second baseman Whit Merrifield couldn’t corral in time.
With the previous four New York relievers having been charged with blown saves, Wandy Peralta closed out the four-hour, 52-minute extravaganza and recorded his third career save, though not without drama. Edward Olivares connected for an RBI single and Peralta faced the potential winning run in Carlos Santana, who grounded out. The Yankees are just the second MLB team to have four blown saves in one game, joining the Astros (9/28/1995).
“It’s one of those games that you don’t see very often,” Gardner said. “We had a couple of chances to win, and you’ve got to give them credit – they kept fighting and kept coming back. They’re obviously a tough opponent, but we were able to come out on top.”
After strong starting performances by the Yanks’ Jameson Taillon and Kansas City’s Carlos Hernández, the clubs mirrored their runs in innings 7-10, with both teams scoring twice in the 10th.
Voit knocked out Hernández in the seventh, but Kansas City answered with an unorthodox run — fueled by an errant Jonathan Loaisiga pickoff throw and a questionable balk that prompted Aaron Boone’s fourth ejection of the season, with the manager watching on a television screen as Ryan O’Hearn lifted a sacrifice fly.
“It’s hard to watch it up in the clubhouse when you’re on a little delay and you’re living and dying with every pitch,” Boone said. “That game is who these guys are. It hasn’t been easy all year, but they keep on competing, keep on coming.”
Aaron Judge put New York back in front by connecting on a tough eighth-inning slider from reliever Scott Barlow, chasing home Tyler Wade, but Loaisiga permitted two baserunners before Andrew Benintendi once again evened the game with a hit off Chad Green.
Playing his second game since being activated from his third stint of the season on the injured list, Voit launched his fourth homer of the season in the ninth, a solo blast to right field. Voit led the Majors with 22 homers during last year’s pandemic-shortened campaign.
“I finally feel like I’m landing good on my leg,” Voit said. “I’m able to drive through that front knee. It’s been a struggle for me because I was being soft with it. I was getting into bad habits because I was favoring it a little bit, especially earlier. It feels back to normal, and that’s all I can ask.”
Voit’s knock was negated in the ninth, as Zack Britton couldn’t close out the lead, surrendering a two-out RBI single to Lopez.
Kyle Higashioka and Gardner drove in runs in the 10th, but so did Jarrod Dyson and Hanser Alberto, spoiling Clay Holmes’ attempt at his first career save.
“I actually thought Britt’s stuff was really good,” Boone said. “Losing Merrifield on a walk cost him and Lopez got him with a pitch out up over the plate. These extra innings are tough to navigate when you come in there and you’ve got a runner on second already. It’s not always going to be perfect.”
Taillon watched most of the frenzy alongside some of the relievers from a table in the clubhouse, their eyes darting from the television broadcast to a high-overhead in-house feed that provided a few seconds of spoilers.
“That,” Taillon said, “was a crazy game. Both sides, any time they needed a big hit, both sides got it. It was one of the weirder, wilder games I’ve ever seen.”
With six-plus splendid innings, the right-hander certainly held up his part, continuing to be a stalwart for a rotation that recently lost Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery and Domingo Germán to the injured list. Taillon is 4-0 with a 1.45 ERA across his last seven starts, lowering his season ERA to 3.82.
“I don’t think I’ve ever played in one like that,” Taillon said. “It feels like forever ago that I pitched.”