NEW YORK — Obtained by the Yankees from Arizona in separate July trades, Brandon McCarthy and Martin Prado are doing their best to keep alive New York’s slim playoff hopes.
McCarthy won for the second time in six starts and Prado had three hits as the Yankees feasted on Kansas City’s bullpen in a 6-2 win Saturday after Royals starter Danny Duffy left because of an injury following his first pitch.
McCarthy, dealt on July 6, allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings with four strikeouts and a walk. He is 6-4 with a 2.87 ERA for the Yankees after going 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 starts for the Diamondbacks.
"It’s nice just to contribute," he said. "I spent the first half of the season being a hindrance on an organization, and that’s something that doesn’t sit well. So to come somewhere where there’s a playoff race going on, and you’re a positive influence on something that’s helping the team win, that’s really all you can ask for."
Prado, acquired on July 31, played for the first time since straining his left hamstring Tuesday and had three hits, raising his average to .309 with the Yankees. He hit .270 with the Diamondbacks.
Prado's 10th multihit effort in his last 16 games fueled a rare offensive outburst by the weak-hitting Yankees, who scored as many as six runs for the first time since Aug. 29. A night earlier, a 1-0 loss in the series opener dropped them 4 1/2 games back for the AL's second wild card.
"Hitting is contagious, I believe," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It just picks your club up It's uplifting. The last 20 games, he's been unbelievable."
The Yankees scored all their runs in the first five innings off Liam Hendriks and Casey Coleman, called on because of Duffy's sore left shoulder.
Prado doubled off Hendriks (1-1) with two outs in the first and gave his hamstring a test when he came around on Mark Teixeira's single.
"I was like, please, just let me get to home plate,"' Prado said.
Prado said he is playing at less than 100 per cent but wants to be in the lineup as the Yankees try to avoid missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1992 and '93.
"I'm trying to be smart," Prado said. "I want to be in there for my teammates."
After Alex Gordon's RBI bloop single tied the score in the third, the Yankees went ahead for good in the bottom half on Jacoby Ellsbury's run-scoring triple and Derek Jeter's sacrifice fly.
Chase Headley make it 4-1 in the fourth when he scored from third after Perez overthrew third base for an error on a pickoff attempt. Carlos Beltran doubled in a run in the fifth and scored on a single by pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki.
Mike Moustakas had a sacrifice fly in the seventh, ending McCarthy's day, but Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined for hitless relief. New York relievers have thrown 11 innings of scoreless, three-hit relief in their last four games with 14 strikeouts and no walks.
"Just a good team game," McCarthy said.
Kansas City (78-62) remained two games ahead of Detroit in the AL Central, but the Royals were far more concerned with the state of Duffy's left shoulder. Duffy, who returned in August 2013 following elbow ligament-replacement surgery, entered the day with a 2.44 ERA, third-best in the AL.
"We will send him home tomorrow and get an MRI to see what we are dealing with," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Kansas City scored four runs or fewer for the eighth straight game -- including a suspended game against Cleveland on Aug. 31 that will resume on Sept. 22. But the Royals are 4-3 in that span thanks to their pitching.
"We will get a hit here and there, but not really consistent all-around," Gordon said. "We just need to get more consistent and have some big innings."
Royals: RHP Greg Holland was missed his second straight game due to a tight right triceps. "Hopefully a day or two or three recovery and be ready to go," Yost said. ... DH Josh Willingham returned Saturday after missing six games because of a sore back and went 1 for 4.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka threw a 34-pitch bullpen session. Girardi said the club needs to see Tanaka pitch in a game this season to know whether he can pitch without surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. ... C Francisco Cervelli missed the game because of a migraine. ... OF Brett Gardner didn't play after aggravating an abdominal injury Friday. Girardi said he was questionable at best for Sunday.
Yankees RHP Shane Greene (4-2) opposes Royals RHP Yordano Ventura (11-9) in the series finale after a pregame ceremony on Derek Jeter Day.
BETANCES MOVING ON UP: Betances threw a perfect eighth inning with one strikeout, his 125th of the season. That's the second-most in team history for a reliever, three strikeouts ahead of Rich Gossage in 1978 and five shy of Mariano Rivera in 1996.
"Look at the names -- one Hall of Famer and one just waiting four more years," Girardi said. "That's how dominant he has been this year, and how good he has been."
THE M&M BOYS: McCarthy credited catcher John Ryan Murphy -- whom he'd never thrown to before Saturday -- for helping him labour through a 105-pitch effort on a humid 89-degree afternoon.
"Wasn't really sharp, but I felt like Murphy did a good job getting me through it and making sure we could kind of keep going deeper into the game and make those runs that they gave me early hold up," McCarthy said. "Just kind of one of those days where you're working for everything you get. Nothing really comes easy."
ELLSBURY DOES IT ALL: Ellsbury went 1 for 4 and is hitting .359 with 13 RBIs in his last 18 games.
Ellsbury also saved at least two hits in centre: He ran down a potential RBI extra-base hit by Josh Willingham in the gap in the fourth and caught Gordon's sinking liner in the eighth.
"He's a tremendous centre fielder," Girardi said. "As good as it gets."