MLB: Yankees await Juan Soto’s return entering series with Royals

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The New York Yankees survived one weekend without Juan Soto, and they are optimistic their star right fielder is healed.

After Soto missed the series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees are hoping he will return from left forearm inflammation Monday night in the opener of a four-game series against the host Kansas City Royals.

Soto has not played since the fifth inning of Thursday’s win over the Minnesota Twins. He was a spectator in the dugout as the Yankees dropped two of three to the Dodgers for their first series loss since losing three of four in Baltimore bridging April and May.

Soto was never a consideration for the first two games but was an option for Sunday. The Yankees did not need him, though fans chanted his name right before Trent Grisham hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth inning off Tyler Glasnow that helped them salvage one game of the series with a 6-4 win.

Aaron Judge also homered, giving him three for the series, to raise his major-league-leading total to 24, but the Yankees batted .226 (24-for-106) and were 3-for-21 with runners in scoring position.

“That’s the hope,” manager Aaron Boone said before Sunday’s game about Soto’s return. “We’re not worried about him doing anything that he’s got to do baseball-wise. It’s just based on how he’s doing and how he’s feeling. He should be good to go.”

Kansas City is 5-8 in its past 13 games since its eight-game winning streak ended on May 25. The Royals were unable to finish off a three-game sweep of the visiting Seattle Mariners when closer James McArthur issued a pair of two-out walks and allowed three runs in the top of the 10th inning of Sunday’s 6-5 loss.

“That’s very frustrating,” McArthur said. “Don’t want to walk people out there. You want to make tough pitches. It’s not what I’m trying to do. I’ve got to get back to just being a little more aggressive, trust my stuff in those situations.”

The Royals are hoping to avoid more frustrations by sending Seth Lugo (9-1, 2.13 ERA) to the mound to open the series. He could join Philadelphia’s Ranger Suarez as the only 10-game winners in the majors.

Since allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings on April 21 against Baltimore for his only loss, Lugo is 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA in eight starts. Lugo experienced his worst outing of the season Tuesday when he allowed five runs on six hits in six innings of a no-decision during Kansas City’s 8-5 loss at Cleveland.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.53 ERA in 12 career appearances, including two starts, against the Yankees. His most recent start against them occurred Aug. 30, 2020, for the Mets when he allowed one run and four hits with seven strikeouts. He took a no-decision in the Yankees’ 5-2 win.

New York’s Carlos Rodon (8-2, 3.08) is 6-0 with a 2.48 ERA during a six-start winning streak and attempts to win a career-high seventh. Rodon kept his streak going when he retired the first 16 hitters he faced and allowed two runs on three hits in six innings of a 9-5 victory over the visiting Minnesota Twins.

Rodon has allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of his 13 starts this season after struggling with injuries and going 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts in 2023.

Rodon is returning to the site of his worst moment from last season. In his final start, he did not retire a hitter and was pulled after allowing eight runs on six hits and two walks.

The left-hander is 3-6 with a 5.27 ERA in 11 career starts against the Royals.

–Field Level Media

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