Felipe Paulino is becoming quite the regular at blanking the New York Yankees.
Pitching out of trouble with ease, Paulino pitched shutout ball against the Yankees for the second time in 17 days. Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur backed him with two-run homers, leading the Kansas City Royals to a 6-0 win Monday night in the opener of a nine-game trip.
"Paulino, since he's been back, has been dynamite," Royals manager Ned Yost said.
After starting the season on the disabled list due to a strained right forearm, Paulino allowed four hits over six shutout innings against the Yankees on May 5. He then lost 5-0 at the Chicago White Sox and got a no-decision with seven scoreless innings against Baltimore.
On a rainy, misty evening, Paulino (2-1) became the first starter to pitch shutout ball against the Yankees in consecutive outings since Boston's Josh Beckett on April 10 and May 14 last year, according to STATS LLC. He allowed six hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out eight and walked two, sending the Yankees to their sixth loss in seven games and helping the Royals to their fifth straight road win.
"It's a boost of confidence for our team, having him pitch the way he's been pitching for us," Moustakas said. "He came out today against a great offense, the Yankees, and gave us a chance to win. He put up zeroes the entire time, and that's all you can ask for out of your starting pitcher."
Paulino stranded runners at the corners in the first when Raul Ibanez fouled out. The Yankees loaded the bases with no outs in the third, but Robinson Cano took a called third strike on a slider, Alex Rodriguez struck out swinging on a fastball and Ibanez flied out to the left-field warning track.
"When I go bases loaded, I go to myself: 'OK, let me go aggressive against this guy, and that's what I did," Paulino said. "These guys are real smart. I tried to mix up my pitches, try to mix it up all the times and they guessing all the time and that's real good for me to mix up my pitches."
Batting cleanup for the first time in his big league career, Moustakas homered in the first inning off Hiroki Kuroda (3-6), a drive that clanked high off the right-field foul pole.
"I hit it pretty good off the bat. I knew it had enough to get out. I just didn't know if it was going to stay fair or not," Moustakas said. "It started off pretty straight and ended up hooking toward the end, and thank goodness it hit the fair pole."
It came in his first career game at new Yankee Stadium.
"It's really cool," Moustakas said. "Coming into this park, you know all the history behind old Yankee Stadium and the kind of things they brought. Just to play in this stadium is awesome. It's cool to go out to the Hall of Fame out there in center field and see all that stuff and all the great players that have played in this organization."
Eric Hosmer added an RBI double in the third, and Francoeur homered into the visitor's bullpen in the seventh on Freddy Garcia's second pitch of the night — just Francoeur's second home run of the season.
"I was confident of the approach I was going to have," he said. "It feels good right now. I feel great and I feel comfortable."
Irving Falu scored on Garcia's wild pitch in the eighth,
Kuroda allowed three runs, seven hits and three walks in 5 1-3 innings, failing to retire the side in order in an inning.
New York's bats fizzled once again, going 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position with five strikeouts and a foulout. Booed repeatedly by their increasingly impatient fans, the Yankees lost for the sixth time in seven games. At 21-21, they have their worst record at this point in the season since they started 20-25 in 2008 — the only time since 1994 that New York failed to make the playoffs. The Yankees are tied with Boston for last in the AL East.
"It's very frustrating," Rodriguez said. "We've talked about it over and over again. You can't really describe it. It's not a lot of fun obviously going out and not getting the job done. But at this point, nobody's going to feel sorry for us."
Notes: Kansas City 2B Chris Getz left in the fifth after aggravating a bruised rib on his left side. He was tagged out at second in the fourth inning trying to stretch a single. ... Rodriguez hit his 500th double. ... Kansas City has three shutouts. ... The Yankees were blanked for the fourth time. ... New York's Phil Hughes (3-5) starts against Luke Hochevar (3-4) on Tuesday. Felipe Paulino is becoming quite the regular at blanking the New York Yankees. ... Yost got his 600th win as a manager — earning a beer shower from his players.