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Junis labors after Royals start strong vs. Tribe

Righty yields pair of costly homers to Lindor, including slam
MLB.com @FlannyMLB

KANSAS CITY -- The long-ball woes continue for Royals right-hander Jakob Junis.

Junis, who came into Monday night's game having given up a Major League-leading 22 home runs, surrendered two more, both to Francisco Lindor, and the Royals fell to the Indians, 9-3, at Kauffman Stadium.

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KANSAS CITY -- The long-ball woes continue for Royals right-hander Jakob Junis.

Junis, who came into Monday night's game having given up a Major League-leading 22 home runs, surrendered two more, both to Francisco Lindor, and the Royals fell to the Indians, 9-3, at Kauffman Stadium.

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The Royals have lost 22 of 26 games.

Lindor belted a grand slam in the fourth inning, and followed that up with a three-run shot in the sixth, chasing Junis. Lindor had a career-high seven RBIs.

"Home runs are great," Lindor said. "They're great. I love home runs, don't get me wrong. When I see the ball go over the fence, it's great. But I'm not trying. My job is to move guys, to get on base, to score, drive the ball. If it goes out, it goes out. I'm not trying to hit home runs. [If I try], that's when I go on a 0-for-35 slump, so trying to stay away from that."

Lindor's slam, which came on a changeup, was preceded by a Yan Gomes single through the vacant spot in the shift, and two hit batters. Lindor's three-run jack came on a 2-2 slider.

"I threw some good [changeups] early and got a lot of ground balls with it," Junis said. "That pitch [to Lindor] wasn't really bad. It was out and a little elevated, and he caught it out front and put it out of the park.

Video: CLE@KC: Junis fans Encarnacion to end the frame

"[The slider was] inconsistent. Threw some good ones. Threw some bad ones. I got myself in trouble with a couple of hit batters and good teams take advantage of that."

Royals manager Ned Yost said Junis' problems are mostly mechanical.

"It's really kind of an easy fix," Yost said. "The changeup he got under. For the most part of the night, his changeup was really good. When he stays on top of his changeup, he's got good life, good sink to it. When he gets on the side of the slider, he throws the spinner. When he stays behind it, it's the really, really good one."

Junis gave up eight hits and nine runs, eight earned, over 5 1/3 innings and his ERA ballooned to a season-high 5.13. He has given up 29 runs in his past five starts and has lost seven in a row.

"I'm just trying to go out there and grind it out, and do what I can right now," Junis said of his recent slump. "Just trying to give 100 percent for this team."

Added Yost, "I don't worry about his attitude. You worry about his confidence more than anything else. Again, it's an easy fix. When you're off to the side of the slider it's gonna be a cement mixer. That's what happens when he gets off to the side and that's what Lindor hit."

The Royals actually struck first. Whit Merrifield led off the bottom of the first with a home run, his fifth, to left field off right-hander Corey Kluber. Later, Mike Moustakas doubled and scored -- he barreled through third-base coach Mike Jirschele's stop sign -- on Salvador Perez's single to center.

"He never saw [the stop sign]," Yost said of Moustakas. "By the time he did it was too late."

SOUND SMART
Perez's RBI single in the first inning was his first RBI since June 10. He had gone a career-high 16 games without one.

Video: CLE@KC: Perez rips an RBI single in the 1st

UP NEXT
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (4-7, 4.94 ERA) takes the mound for the middle game of the series against the Indians at 7:15 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. Right-hander Shane Bieber (3-0, 2.22 ERA) will pitch for the Tribe. Duffy is 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA over his past seven starts. He gave up one run over six innings on Wednesday in a win over the Brewers.

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Jakob Junis, Whit Merrifield