Junis hit by liner, optimistic despite early exit

Right-hander departs after 4th while Royals blanked by Tribe

September 3rd, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander continues to confront misfortune in 2020.

Junis started the season on the injured list before being activated in early August. He came back to make two starts before returning to the IL with back spasms.

Now, in his second start back from that injury, Junis was cruising against the Indians early in the Royals’ 5-0 loss on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium, having thrown only 46 pitches over four innings while allowing two runs on four hits. But on that 46th pitch, Josh Naylor ripped a liner off Junis’ right arm.

Although Junis recovered to throw Naylor out at first base, he was replaced to open the fifth for precautionary reasons due to a bruise between his right biceps and triceps muscles.

“I think it will just be sore for a couple of days,” Junis said. “It shouldn’t be anything too crazy. It got me high on the biceps. It hit a lot of meat, so I think it will be OK after a couple of days.”

Junis walked none and struck out one. His lone runs allowed came on a two-run homer by Tyler Naquin in the second.

“I was definitely looking forward to going deep into the game with the low pitch count,” Junis said. “I had some quick innings. It was unfortunate to have it cut short.

“My fastball felt lively, coming out of my hand really well. I was just trying to get it all working at the same time with my slider and my changeup. Just want to get it all honed in at the same time.”

Added Royals manager Mike Matheny: “He was throwing the ball well. He was on track, in my mind. He threw some really good sliders today and got some quick outs. He probably had two more innings in him.”

In the seventh, Kansas City designated hitter Jorge Soler also left as a precaution due to oblique irritation and mid-back tightness. Ryan O'Hearn replaced Soler as a pinch-hitter.

“It’s something that he’s kind of had before earlier this season,” Matheny said. “He kind of knows how to monitor it. The trainers got their hands on him and loosened it up pretty well.”

Meanwhile, the Royals had no answers for Tribe right-hander Triston McKenzie, who tossed six scoreless innings and limited them to three hits.

Kansas City had a scoring chance in the fifth. With one out, Ryan McBroom singled and then went to third on Alex Gordon’s double. Then, struggling Adalberto Mondesi smashed a 107-mph one-hopper to first baseman Carlos Santana. The contact play was on, but McBroom froze about halfway to home. That allowed Santana time to make the putout at first and then throw to third to nab McBroom, who was trying to scramble back to the bag, for an inning-ending double play.

“We’re wanting to draw a throw there,” Matheny said. “He kind of froze. He thought it might be caught. He just got stuck. We need him to commit.”

Royals super-utility man Whit Merrifield's streak of getting a hit in a series ended at 71, as he went 0-for-12 in the three-game set against the Indians. The last series in which he went hitless was Sept. 3-5, 2018, also against the Tribe. It was the second-longest active streak in the Majors behind only Cleveland's Francisco Lindor, who is at 91 straight series with a hit.