KANSAS CITY -- Sonny Gray was working on eight days' rest on Sunday and he obviously made the most of his extra time off between starts.Gray turned in his best outing of the year by allowing just four hits over eight innings as the Yankees rolled to a 10-1 win
KANSAS CITY -- Sonny Gray was working on eight days' rest on Sunday and he obviously made the most of his extra time off between starts.
Gray turned in his best outing of the year by allowing just four hits over eight innings as the Yankees rolled to a 10-1 win over the Royals in the rubber game at Kauffman Stadium. For Gray, who entered the game with a 6.39 ERA, it was all about getting in a rhythm with first-pitch strikes. The right-hander didn't allow a hit until Hunter Dozier singled with two out in the fifth.
"He had some good work on the side getting ready for this," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He was electric today."
Working well with backup catcher Austin Romine, Gray needed just 92 pitches to get through eight innings. His longest outing this season before Sunday was six innings.
"I had a few extra days to work on stuff and iron some things out," Gray said. "I think we did a good job with that and I tried to take that into the game."
Gray had a two-hit shutout working through seven innings and the Yankees had provided him an ample working margin, thanks largely to a couple of two-run homers by Christopher Austin. Miguel Andujar and Romine also went deep in the finale as the Yanks belted nine homers over the final two games in the series.
• Austin never stopped running down his dreams
"I thought his stuff was great and the slider was a really good pitch for him," Boone said. "When he's ahead [in the count], he has the weapons to put people away. That was clear today. The stuff is elite. That's why we were so optimistic about him even when he was going through some struggles."
Royals starter Eric Skoglund matched Gray until the fourth when Aaron Hicks led off with a walk and Austin hit a two-run homer that traveled a projected 440 feet, according to Statcast™. The Yanks scored three runs apiece in the fourth and fifth, and that outburst essentially put the game away.
The Yankees (30-13) have won eight consecutive series as they prepare to open a three-game set against the Rangers on Monday at Globe Life Park. New York hasn't taken nine series in a row since July 20-Aug. 20 in 1998.
"It's so much fun to watch our offense," Gray said. "The way this offense continues to carry it out is really impressive to watch."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
With Gary Sanchez getting a day off, Romine went 3-for-5 with a homer, double and two RBIs. He also put down the signs that kept Gray working at an enviable pace.
"It was pitch, mound, sign and go," Romine said of Gray's outing. "Just having a rhythm out there. He just kept making pitches. It's nice to see the bounce back."
With Sunday's win, the Yankees improved to a Major League-best 24-1 when allowing four runs or fewer.
HE SAID IT
"When you see [Aaron Judge], [Giancarlo Stanton] and Sanchez get into those [home-run] balls, I don't know many people who can hang with them." -- Austin, when asked about stacking up with the prominent power hitters in New York's lineup
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (4-2, 4.73 ERA) will take the ball at 8:05 p.m. ET on Monday as the Yankees open a three-game series against the Rangers at Globe Life Park. Tanaka worked five innings in his last start against the Nationals, allowing four hits and three runs. That game was tied at 3 in the sixth when play was suspended. The Rangers will counter with veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon, whose 2.82 ERA ranked ninth in the American League entering Sunday.
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City.