DETROIT -- Royals right-hander Jakob Junis was the right man for the right job.Growing up and pitching in Rock Falls, Ill., Junis had weathered these conditions before -- as in sub-freezing wind chills, rain, wind, mud, all of which were present on Tuesday at Comerica Park.Junis subsequently breezed through seven-plus
DETROIT -- Royals right-hander Jakob Junis was the right man for the right job.
Growing up and pitching in Rock Falls, Ill., Junis had weathered these conditions before -- as in sub-freezing wind chills, rain, wind, mud, all of which were present on Tuesday at Comerica Park.
Junis subsequently breezed through seven-plus scoreless innings in a 1-0 Royals victory over the Tigers, Kansas City's first win of the season after three losses. Junis gave up three harmless singles, walked one and struck out six.
"The wind was in my face to start with and that helped me out, gave my pitches a little more break," Junis said. "I've pitched in a lot of stuff like that growing up, being from Illinois. I'm no stranger to throwing when it's cold like that. Actually, I don't struggle with grip when it's cold. Usually only when it's hot."
Junis temporarily shelved a spike curve he learned in Spring Training and relied heavily on his two-seamer (30) and his slider (28) among his 87 pitches.
One highlight for Junis was striking out Jose Cabrera on three sliders with two on and two out in the third inning.
"The first one he took for a strike, so we thought why not throw it again, and I threw it further outside and he swung through it," Junis said. "I was just trying to throw the last one as hard as I could, and I kind of got lucky. Threw it right at him and froze him. If we had thrown it further outside, I don't think he would have bit."
The Tigers were impressed.
"We knew he throws a slider, likes the slider," Detroit outfielder Michael Mahtook said. "We faced him last year and that's what he did. This year, he threw a lot more two-seamers. He kept the two-seamer down, didn't make many mistakes."
Right-hander Justin Grimm pitched a scoreless eighth and may have taken the early lead as manager Ned Yost's primary setup man. Closer Kelvin Herrera finished off the Tigers in the ninth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cuthbert's hustle: Royals infielder Cheslor Cuthbert isn't known for his speed, but his hustle produced the Royals' run. Cuthbert fisted a blooper over Cabrera's head into shallow right field, hesitated and then ran hard into second base for a double as Cabrera fumbled the ball. Cuthbert then tagged up on Paulo Orlando's flyout to center and made it to third. Cuthbert then scored on Jorge Soler's sacrifice fly to left for the only run of the game.
"It all worked out good for us, baserunning, stuff we've been practicing all [Spring Training] about trying to find ways to take the extra base and move up 90 feet," Yost said.
The overshift works: The Royals have begun experimenting with overshifting this season, something Yost had been opposed to in previous years. It paid off in the fourth. With a runner on first and one out, Kansas City overshifted for James McCann, which put second baseman Whit Merrifield behind second base. Merrifield was able to snare McCann's liner up the middle and throw back to first to get an inning-ending double play. More >
"The weather conditions were rough. I went out to get [Junis] in the eighth and it looked like I was in the middle of a bank robbery. Everybody had their masks on. I thought, 'What the heck is going on out here?'" -- Yost
Left-hander Danny Duffy (0-1, 11.25 ERA) will make his second start of the season in the series finale Wednesday against the Tigers at 12:10 p.m. CT. Duffy gave up seven hits and five runs over four innings in the Royals' 14-7 loss to the White Sox on Opening Day.
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Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.