KANSAS CITY — Whit Merrifield had his imprints all over this game from the start.
Merrifield had three hits, three stolen bases and scored two runs in leading the Royals to a 5-2 victory over the Yankees in the series opener on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Royals manager Ned Yost picked up his 1,100th career victory as the club snapped a five-game skid. Yost didn’t get the “Salvy Splash” outside, but he did get doused in water in the clubhouse.
Royals right-hander Jakob Junis went 5 1/3 innings and was victimized by some soft-contact singles in the sixth inning that chased him. Giancarlo Stanton hit a 52-mph squibber to an open right side, leading off the sixth. One batter later, Aaron Hicks blooped a 74-mph single in front of center fielder Abraham Almonte. Both inherited runners scored against reliever Tim Hill.
Junis gave up seven hits and two runs while walking one and striking out three. He threw 101 pitches. Kelvin Herrera earned his ninth save.
Merrifield, celebrating the second anniversary of his Major League callup, led off the Royals’ first with a double, stole second and scored on a fielder’s choice. He also singled, stole second and scored in the third. His final steal came after single in the fourth.