By Jeffrey Flanagan and Robert Falkoff
KANSAS CITY -- Mike Moustakas clubbed a three-run homer, left-hander Danny Duffy tossed seven shutout innings and the Royals avoided a three-game sweep by the Yankees with a 5-1 win on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Moustakas, who missed most of 2016 with a torn ACL, now has 32 home runs in his last 133 games. He leads the Royals in homers, with 10.
Left-hander Jordan Montgomery went five innings for the Yankees, giving up four hits and five runs. He walked three and struck out four.
"It looked like Duffy's slider was really good tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You are going to run into guys who have good stuff and are on. On certain nights it's going to be tough to put much up against them. We had a couple of chances."
Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro said his team had trouble picking up the spin on Duffy's slider.
"I didn't see [the spin indicating a slider]," Castro said. "He didn't make too many mistakes."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED A Moose calling: Moustakas jumped on a first-pitch 85-mph slider from Montgomery and hoisted it high into the night. A strong and gusting wind blowing in from right field nearly blew the ball back onto the field of play, but the three-run shot -- Statcast™ had it traveling at 102.3 mph -- essentially sealed the outcome, as Drew Butera and Alcides Escobar scored ahead of Moustakas.
"I knew I hit it well," Moustakas said, "but I knew the wind was blowing in pretty hard. I saw [Aaron] Judge get to the wall and I started to get nervous. Pretty happy when it got over."
Added Royals manager Ned Yost: "Wind killed it. He smoked it. The wind kind of caught up and it died out there, but he got enough to get it over the fence."
Costly mistake: Montgomery walked Eric Hosmer and Jorge Bonifacio in the second, and with one out, induced what appeared to be a double-play grounder from Jorge Soler. But the relay throw from Castro skipped into first baseman Chris Carter, who couldn't handle it. Soler was safe, and the Royals capitalized, as Whit Merrifield and Butera followed with RBI singles to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.
"It's a low throw [to Castro], and that makes it tougher on him," Girardi said. "That was one we probably should have turned." More >
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Yankees challenged an out call at first after Ellsbury opened the fourth with a bunt along the first-base line. Duffy got off the mound and threw quickly to first, but the out call was overturned, giving the Yankees their first hit of the game.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Right-hander Luis Severino (2-2, 3.86 ERA) will make his eighth start on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET when the Yankees open a weekend series against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Severino matched the shortest start of his career last Sunday, when he lasted just 2 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and three earned runs while taking a no-decision against the Astros.
Royals: Right-hander Nathan Karns (2-2, 4.46 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals as they open a three-game series in Minneapolis against the Twins on Friday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Karns struck out a career-high 12 batters in his most recent start, on Saturday against the Orioles.