Rapid Reaction: Royals 3, Yankees 1

NEW YORK -- Another night, another wasted effort by a New York Yankees starter, and another soul-crushing loss, this one 3-1 to a Kansas City Royals team that came in four games below .500 -- in the AL Central, no less -- and now has a chance to leave at 44-44. CC Sabathia was good -- 9IP, 7H, 3ER -- but Travis Hafner (three strikeouts) and Lyle Overbay (crucial K with the bases-loaded) were awful and Robinson Cano failed big-time in the clutch. This is becoming quite painful to watch.

What it means: That in the 90th game of their 2013 season, the Yankees have hit rock-bottom. Just when it was hard to imagine a more lifeless performance than Monday night's, the Yankees set the bar even lower Tuesday night. Well, at least it was brief (2 hours, 29 minutes).

No Hope Week: The Yankees annual week of charitable acts extends to the playing field, where they have now lost three straight games at home, two of which -- Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Orioles and Tuesday's 3-1 loss -- they definitely should have won, with Mariano Rivera protecting a lead in the ninth and their ace, CC Sabathia, on the mound Tuesday night.

All for one: The Yankees got four hits in the first inning but came away with just one run, stranding the bases loaded after Robinson Cano's RBI single to right scored Brett Gardner (bunt hit) from first. Travis Hafner then struck out and Zoilo Almonte singled to right, but Ichiro Suzuki (single) could not score from second. Shields then struck out Lyle Overbay for the second out and got a break when his CF, Lorenzo Cain, ran down Eduardo Nunez' liner to deep center. In hindsight, the game was lost right here.

All for none: The Yankees got runners to first and second with one out in the third but -- you guessed it -- came up empty when Almonte rapped into an inning-ending DP. The Yankees did not get another hit off Shields, who went seven and retired the last 13 batters he faced.

Even Robbie cannot: The Yankees finally got a hit in the eighth, when Brett Gardner singled off reliever Tim Collins with one out. Gardner moved to second on Ichiro's groundout, and Royals manager Ned Yost chose to pitch to Robinson Cano with first base open, a risky maneuver to say the least. But in a seven-pitch struggle, Collins struck out Cano on a changeup to end the inning.

Billy ball: The Royals took a 2-1 lead when Billy Butler -- yes, him again -- crushed another CC fastball that moseyed in at 91 mph and dropped it in the left-field seats leading off the seventh. It was the 20th HR allowed by Sabathia this year, more than any other Yankees pitcher.

Lough blow: Royals right fielder David Lough, a left-handed hitter who had hit just two HRs all year, launched a 1-1 Sabathia fastball clocked at 91 mph and deposited it into the second deck beyond right field to tie the game at 1-1 leading off the sixth. For Sabathia, it was his team-leading 19th HR allowed so far this season. He allowed just 22 last year.

Final nail: That was driven in by Eric Hosmer, whose eighth-inning double scored Alcides Escobar (also a double) with the Royals' third run of the game.

More than able: Kansas City center fielder Lorenzo Cain was a one-man rally-killer for the Yankees, running down two long drives by Nunez, one of which would have cleared the bases, and robbing Chris Stewart of a hit with a sliding catch in the fifth.

What's next: Game 3, a must-win if the Yankees want to avoid a series loss to the Royals, matches Ivan Nova (3-2, 4.09) and RHP Wade Davis (4-7, 5.42), first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET.