Guillen's great day goes for naught
Royals fall to Yankees despite right fielder's seven RBIs
NEW YORK -- How's this for a showdown between two grizzled baseball gunslingers? Seven RBIs and two homers for Jose Guillen. Six-for-six and four RBIs for Johnny Damon.
But when the smoke cleared, Damon and the Yankees prevailed over Guillen and the Royals in a wild shootout, 12-11, on Saturday afternoon that left a sellout crowd of 53,611 fans at Yankee Stadium limp.
Royals starter Brian Bannister summed it up succinctly.
"Wow," he said softly.
Guillen and Bannister were gone by the time Damon lined his sixth hit down the right-field line to end the game.
First there was an exchange of dramatic home runs in the ninth inning. David DeJesus gave the Royals an 11-10 lead by driving closer Mariano Rivera's first pitch over the right-field wall. Jorge Posada promptly tied the score in the Yankees' half with a first-pitch blast off Joakim Soria.
"We were trying to go down low and way, and the ball cut up and in to Posada," catcher John Buck said. "It came right into his zone, middle up, where Jorge likes it. You're not going to see that very often from Soria."
Soria had two outs when he walked Wilson Betemit. A tap down the third-base line was a single for Melky Cabrera.
"There's nothing you can do about a full-swing bunt except hope it turns foul," said Mike Aviles, then at third base.
But it didn't, and up came Damon, who'd already hit a double and four singles. The count went to 3-1, and Soria threw a fastball. Damon swung and, for a moment, the ball looked as though it would hook foul.
"It looked like it, but it stayed fair," Soria said. "I didn't have luck today."
Soria's perfect record, 13-for-13 in save situations, was blown away.
"I don't know how that ball of Damon's stayed fair," Buck said. "I thought we were going to have one more pitch at him."
It was the first six-hit game of Damon's career and the first by a Yankee at Yankee Stadium. Another piece of history for the soon-to-be-shuttered baseball monument.
"I've had a couple of chances to get six before," Damon said. "Fortunately, the ball didn't curve foul for me today."
Guillen's grand slam was the fourth of his career and the 100th in Royals history. He also hit a two-run blast and an RBI single, giving him nine homers and 45 RBIs this season. If that wasn't enough, he also threw out two baserunners from right field.
Quite a day, eh, Jose?
"I don't have anything to say to anybody today. How about that?" Guillen said.
We'll take that as a "no comment."
Guillen's slam broke a 6-6 tie in the Royals' five-run seventh inning against left-hander Andy Pettitte. Then Guillen, who had painfully fouled a ball off his left shin in the sixth, was taken out of the game.
"He hit the ball right off the middle of his shin, and it was starting to swell pretty good," manager Trey Hillman said. "We felt like we were in a position where we could get him off of it and get some ice on it and put him in a better position for tomorrow's game."
But the 10-6 lead didn't hold up.
In the bottom of the seventh, reliever Brett Tomko gave up a single to Bobby Abreu and a home run to Alex Rodriguez -- a boomer far over the left-field fence. Tomko had been throwing fastballs, but he tried something else on the first pitch to Rodriguez.
"I don't think A-Rod was looking for the slider, but he was the one guy that might be good enough to react to it," Buck said.
The Yankees caught up in the eighth against reliever Ramon Ramirez on a two-run single by -- who else? -- Damon.
There had been plenty of slugging earlier.
After the Yankees rallied for a 5-5 tie, Jason Giambi came up with two outs in the fifth inning. The Royals used their exaggerated shift, leaving a huge portion of the Bronx open between second base and third.
Dump a bunt? Ha. Giambi instead went high over the shift and pounded Joel Peralta's pitch into the upper deck and the Yankees were up, 6-5. It was Giambi's 13th home run of the season.
The Royals gave Bannister a 5-1 lead with three runs in the third. The flurry included a run-scoring triple by Aviles, his third extra-base hit in two games.
The Yankees zinged Bannister for four runs in the fourth, and it would have been worse if not for Guillen's howitzer throw from right field. Guillen caught Derek Jeter's line drive and fired a one-bounce strike to Buck at the plate, easily doubling up Cabrera.
Guillen also threw out Damon, trying for a double, to end the sixth.
It was a wild and crazy day all around.
"You want to win, but the one positive, I thought, was we didn't back down, we didn't fold," Aviles said. "Every time we needed to score runs, we scored runs, and we kept being aggressive. Baseball's a funny game. Yesterday everything went our way, today it didn't."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.