They still have some high-priced players on the roster, but most are in decline, such as tonight's starter C.C. Sabathia.
Other than losing the shutout in the ninth, the opener in Kansas City went about as well as the Yankees could have hoped. Both were off Jason Hammel, who fell to 1-5 with a 6.20 ERA in eight starts. The Yankees' romp had started and was in good hands with Sabathia, pitching in his favorite ballpark.
"I love pitching here", Sabathia said, smiling.
Vargas (5-1) missed most of the 2016 season after having Tommy John surgery in 2015. "Obviously, there are some things that go into daily preparation that remind me of it".
Hammel, who took the team's lone defeat last week when he was knocked around for seven runs and 13 hits at Tampa Bay, wasn't much better Tuesday.
"I've got to do a better job of keeping the ball in the park", Hammel said. "I think he had a frustrating weekend, but he had been swinging the bat pretty good before that".
But the Royals, who had emerged from an offensive slumber last week when they won six of seven and brought a four-game winning streak into the game, got few good swings against the big lefty.
Gary Sanchez didn't need a home run Tuesday night to validate the faith in his swing, but "that definitely felt good, " the Yankees' slugging catcher said through his interpreter.
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"I see a group of guys that's capable of putting together a pretty good run over a course of the season", Vargas said of his teammates.
"He's not off to the start that he wanted, and he's probably not off to the start that we wanted as well", the manager said. "It's starting to come around". Sometimes that happens when you start moving guys back and guys have got to figure out what their new role is and how they're going to be used and you integrate as well.
"The cutter was a lot better today", Sabathia said. He walked one and didn't record a strikeout as his earned run average ballooned to 6.20 and his record dropped to 1-5.
A walk to Gardner brought up Gary Sanchez, who powered Hammel's 92 miles per hour fastball 428 feet over the center-field wall for his third homer of the season. The 36-year-old struck out four as he improved to 3-2 with a 4.93 ERA. He carried a flawless game into the seventh inning of the Yankees' home opener on April 10.
CC Sabathia had struggled in his recent outings, but he put in 6.2 scoreless innings against the Royals, allowing just five hits and two walks.
Pineda had his five-game undefeated run snapped in his last start, a 3-2 loss Thursday to the Houston Astros.
Travis Wood, like Hammel a former Chicago Cub, also gave up a run on one hit and two hits.