Game 42: KC vs. NYY — It’s good to be home again.

Back home again, with a few cosmetic changes to the stadium. Jeter’s retired number joined the others on the big wall in left field. And out in the right field seats, they added a special section called “The Judges Chambers” after several avid fans have showed up in robes and powdered wigs last week. Tonight, fans got special robes and foam gavels to the lucky guests in that section.

The umpires seemed in a jovial mood before tonight’s game. They specifically called manager Joe Girardi out from the dugout while they gathered at the plate to exchange lineup cards. They specifically asked Girardi to clean up home plate they covered with dirt, as an amusing nod to this weekend’s dramatic ejection. Everyone seemed to find amusement with it. And it’s a nice way to close the chapter on the crazy weekend.

Tonight, the Yankees hosted the Royals for the first game of their 4-game series this week, behind Michael Pineda. Pineda did a pretty good job of keeping the Royals in line for his outing. He threw 98 pitches into the 7th innings, gave up 6 hits, a walk, and 2 runs, striking out 6 Royals’ batters. A lead-off solo home run kicked off the 3rd inning, and 1 out later, a batter singled and then scored on an RBI double.

Adam Warren came on in the 7th to get out of Pineda’s jam, including a close call for the final out of the inning. The batter hit a grounder up the middle and Castro fired to get the out at 1st, but when the umpire there called it safe, the runner made a run for home. But seeing as the Yankees rely on an observer with a near-perfect record, the Yankees opted for a challenge, which was quickly overturned and negated the run scored, keeping the Royals to those 2 runs.

Clippard breezed his way through the 8th inning in just 15 pitches, before Dellin Betances came on for the save in the 9th. Despite giving up a single, Betances closed out the game quickly and earned his 3rd save of the season.

Meanwhile, the Yankees faced the Royals’ starter, with mixed results. He certainly held them off for most of the game, but they also racked up his pitch count (102 pitches in just 6 innings). But they made good use of the limited options. Brett Gardner continues his power-surge with a 1-out solo home run in the 3rd inning.

Then in the 4th, with 1 out, Judge worked a walk, moved to 2nd on a ground out, and then scored as part of Didi Gregorius’ bit 2-run home run to leap the Yankees ahead. And after the starter left the game, in the 7th, Chris Carter hit a 1-out solo home run to get that insurance run.

And, yes, if you were paying close attention, the Yankees scored every run tonight on home runs.

Final score: 4-2 Yankees

And today kicked off the 9th Annual HOPE Week. Helping Others Persevere and Excel is an initiative the Yankees began to recognize and honor local community organizations. Today, Dellin Betances, Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, and Didi Gregorius surprised siblings Victor and Nayyelyn Garcia at the world-famous Bronx Zoo.

11-year-old Victor was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia 2 years ago, needing a bone marrow transplant to save his life. He found one close to home — his sister Nayyelyn, now 7-years-old.  The Icla da Silva Foundation, the largest organizer of the US’s Be the Match Registry of bone marrow donors, helped the Garcia family with their entire ordeal — arranging for the flight from their home in the Dominican Republic to New York this last August for the surgery and paying for all travel and medical expenses.

Before tonight’s game, now doing well in remission 9 months post-surgery, Victor and his kid sister Nayyelyn threw out the first pitch. The Yankees also donated $10,000 to the Icla da Silva Foundation and encouraged people to sign up to be a bone marrow donor.

I know we’re just getting started with HOPE Week, but every day, every recipient is so special and so worth the celebrating. It reminds everyone to do something for someone else. Even something as simple as registering to be a donor to save someone’s life one day.

Go Yankees!

{Also, our thoughts and prayers are with those injured in the attack in Manchester, England tonight and with the families of those who never made it home.}

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