Vargas touched up for first time this season, Yankees roll to 11-7 win

New York Yankees' Starlin Castro scores in front of Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez on a single by Didi Gregorius in the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium May 17, 2017 in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run fourth inning, the Yankees piled up 16 hits and New York rolled to an 11-7 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

Michael Pineda (4-2) allowed three runs and six hits with two walks over six-plus innings. The big right-hander was shaky throughout but good enough to win for only the second time in 16 road starts.

The Yankees teed off on Jason Vargas (5-2), who came into the game with a major league-leading 1.01 ERA. The left-hander allowed as many earned runs in the fourth as he had in his first seven starts combined, and was lifted after allowing six runs on seven hits and two walks in four innings.

Vargas had been unbeaten in his last 10 home starts.

Then again, maybe his abysmal night shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. Vargas has never beaten the Yankees in nine starts and 10 outings, going 0-6 with a 7.15 ERA.

Starlin Castro had three hits and drove in a run. Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius each had two hits and two RBIs. In fact, the only Yankees without a hit by the fifth inning were Matt Holliday and Aaron Judge, and all Judge had done was draw a pair of walks and score both times.

Holliday and Judge promptly got their base hits in the sixth.

Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer and Whit Merrifield also went deep for Kansas City, which scored three times in the ninth to make the final score more respectable.

The Yankees entered the game leading the big leagues with a plus-59 run differential, and they added to it on a windy night at Kauffman Stadium. They pounded their 59th home run through their first 37 games, and scored seven or more runs for the fourth consecutive game.

They routed the Royals 7-1 in the series opener Tuesday night.

TWO FOR ONE

Yankees third baseman Chase Headley was charged with two errors on one play in the seventh inning. First, he bobbled a grounder that allowed Merrifield to reach first safely. Then, he threw widely of first base to allow the lead runner to go from second to third.

A-ROD ON TV

Alex Rodriguez makes his debut as a color commentator for the series finale on Thursday. A-Rod will join Kevin Burkhardt in calling the game on Fox Sports. Rodriguez has been active in TV since his retirement, doing pre- and post-game analysis for Fox Sports along with other projects.

“I get a chance to talk to him tomorrow pregame and talk about the team, so that will be kind of strange,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That means I’m getting old.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Royals RHP Ian Kennedy played long toss before the game and should be ready to start Saturday. He has been out with a right hamstring injury. “Things are looking pretty good,” manager Ned Yost said.

UP NEXT

Yankees LHP Jordan Montgomery goes for his third career win in his seventh big league start on Thursday night. He was battered by Houston in his last start Friday night.

Royals LHP Danny Duffy tries to snap a five-start winless streak against his nemesis. Duffy is just 1-2 with a 7.29 ERA in seven appearances against New York.