Before Tuesday’s game against the Tigers at Comerica Park, the Royals had to feel the stars were properly aligned.
Kansas City was riding a season-high six-game winning streak, averaging 7.3 runs a game during the stretch. Starter Jakob Junis held a career 8-1 mark and a 3.36 ERA against Detroit.
Conversely, Tigers starter Matthew Boyd was 5-9 with a 6.49 ERA in his career against the Royals. Throw in the fact that Boyd had an unsightly 9.16 ERA at Comerica Park this season.
Easy Royals win, right? Not quite.
Junis was hit hard while Boyd dominated, and the Tigers rolled to a 6-0 victory.
“He couldn’t make his slider as relevant as it needed to be,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said, “and that’s because his fastball command was not as sharp.”
Junis wasn’t notified he would get the start until 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday morning. But neither Matheny nor Junis offered that as an excuse.
“It is certainly different,” Matheny said. “But I know our guys try to stay prepared. There are late scratches, guys come out early, so you never know in this game.”
Added Junis, “I’m not going to blame that on what happened tonight. Things happen. My name is called and I have to go out and do my job no matter what the circumstances are.
“I made a couple of mistakes with my fastball. Started behind on a lot of guys. It just spiraled out of control.”
Junis gave up three runs in the first inning, including a two-run single by former Royal Jorge Bonifacio. His pitches were hammered in the second as well, but he managed to escape unscathed via an unassisted line-drive double play to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi.
In the third, Miguel Cabrera took Junis deep to right on a first-pitch fastball and it was 4-0. Two batters and two hits later, Junis was out of the game.
A walk and a double by Perez in the third inning brought up Maikel Franco with two outs, but Franco lined out to center.
Getting to Boyd early could have made a huge difference.
“No doubt,” Matheny said. “It’s amazing. We had trouble getting in a rhythm offensively. We’ve been so good lately getting guys over or getting a big hit. But we let that first one slip.
“And then runners on again in the third, and Franky put together a good at-bat but just lined out and ended up with a zero. And then we just got on our heels.”
Royals reliever Matt Harvey left the game with two on and two outs in the sixth. After making a pitch to Niko Goodrum, Harvey, who seemed to be stretching out his right side after the previous pitch, was visited by trainer Nick Kenney and Matheny. Harvey then was removed.
The Royals announced that Harvey left with right posterior shoulder discomfort/tightness.