KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Yankees seemed to be lined up for yet another win against a JV-level team when they tied the game with three runs in the top of the ninth Sunday, but they couldn’t take the lead and Jonathan Holder gave up a game-winning single to Whit Merrifield in the bottom of the 10th in an 8-7 loss to the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
It snapped a season-high seven-game winning streak, and after two series against the worst teams in the American League, the Yankees go back to The Bronx — and reality — with the Padres and Red Sox coming to town.
Billy Hamilton walked with one out in the 10th and stole second. Nicky Lopez hit a chopper to third, where Gio Urshela made a nice stop and Kendrys Morales scooped Urshela’s bounced throw to first to keep Hamilton at second.
Urshela wasn’t as good on Merrifield’s hard grounder to third, which got by him and into left to score Hamilton.
The Yankees had stormed back in the ninth, as DJ LeMahieu delivered an RBI single and Aaron Hicks tied it with a two-out, two-run single to make it 7-7.
Nestor Cortes Jr. pitched four shutout innings — including a scoreless ninth, when Aaron Boone stuck with the lefty even after he loaded the bases.
With a taxed bullpen, Cortes stayed out there and finally got Ryan O’Hearn to pop out to keep the game tied in the ninth.
The Yankees were in a large hole because of an ugly outing by Domingo German, who gave up four homers.
German, who has emerged as one of the Yankees’ most reliable starters in the absence of the injured Luis Severino and more recent losses of CC Sabathia and James Paxton, gave up seven runs in his five-inning outing.
And much like they did on Monday in Baltimore, the Yankees eventually shrugged off a large deficit.
Left-hander Danny Duffy mostly held the Yankees’ bats in check after they had scored 60 runs in their previous seven games.
On Sunday, Clint Frazier gave the Yankees another quick lead with a one-out single to left that drove in Gleyber Torres in the second, but it didn’t last long.
German struck out three of the first four batters he faced before he allowed back-to-back singles to Hunter Dozier and Jorge Soler with one out in the bottom of the second. He whiffed O’Hearn for the second out before Martin Maldonado hit a three-run shot to left to put the Royals up, 3-1.
Cameron Maybin opened the third with what appeared to be a bunt single, but he was ruled out for running inside the baseline. LeMahieu followed with a grounder up the middle and was robbed by second baseman Lopez for the second out.
Frazier misplayed another ball in right in the bottom of the third, dropping Merrifield’s fly ball near the right-field corner with one out, allowing him to get to second. German, though, got out of the inning unscathed.
He wasn’t as fortunate in the fourth, as O’Hearn hit a solo shot to make it 4-1.
The young right-hander’s day got worse in the fifth, when he gave up a two-run shot to Dozier, followed by a bomb from Soler on the next pitch, as the Royals took a 7-1 lead.
All four homers allowed by German came with two outs, and he’s looked shaky in three of his past four starts.
Duffy cruised into the sixth, when he retired the first two batters of the inning before Aaron Hicks hit what should have been a routine grounder to short to end the inning. But Adalberto Mondesi’s throwing error extended the inning, Gary Sanchez singled to left and Torres hit a three-run homer to center to get the Yankees back to 7-4.
Singles by Frazier and Urshela with one out in the ninth against ex-Yankee Ian Kennedy brought pinch-hitter Brett Gardner to the plate, but Gardner hit a foul tip that Maldonado caught for the second out. LeMahieu singled to make it 7-5 before Luke Voit walked to load the bases for Hicks, who tied it. Sanchez flied to right to end the inning.