KANSAS CITY -- Jakob Junis finished last season strong, and he's beginning 2018 even stronger.The Royals right-hander surrendered just one infield hit in seven innings of work Monday as Kansas City rolled to a 10-0 victory over the Mariners. With one out in the seventh, Daniel Vogelbach's smash up the
KANSAS CITY -- Jakob Junis finished last season strong, and he's beginning 2018 even stronger.
The Royals right-hander surrendered just one infield hit in seven innings of work Monday as Kansas City rolled to a 10-0 victory over the Mariners. With one out in the seventh, Daniel Vogelbach's smash up the middle was knocked down by Alcides Escobar. But the shortstop, who was shifted to the right side, couldn't make a play and the bid for a no-hitter was over.
In two cold-weather starts, Junis has delivered 14 scoreless innings, becoming only the second Royal to start a season with back-to-back scoreless outings of seven innings or more, joining Danny Jackson. In 1985, Jackson had back-to-back shutouts to open the year.
The Royals have had visions of grandeur for Junis dating back to the end of the 2017 season, when he went 5-0 with a 2.42 ERA from Aug. 6 to Sept. 20. Showcasing a slider with violent movement, Junis joins David Price as the only pitchers to post scoreless outings of seven innings in back-to-back starts this season.
"Until the fourth, he was spot on with everything," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "He started laboring with his command in the fourth, but still found ways to get those outs."
Junis hit three batters, and Yost was thinking about taking him out if he struggled in the sixth. But at that juncture, Yost said he was oblivious to the fact that Junis was still working with a no-hitter.
"I said, 'Maybe I'll change my mind a little bit,'" said Yost.
By the time Junis gave up the seventh-inning hit, the Royals were coasting.
Junis got plenty of offensive help, as the Royals (3-5) tallied a season-high 10 runs after totaling just nine in their previous six games. Mike Moustakas went 3-for-5 with a double and a home run, with the long ball coming in the eighth off Mariners utility man Taylor Motter, who pitched an inning.
Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales couldn't follow up on his solid season debut, lasting just 2 1/3 innings while allowing eight hits and four runs in a 64-pitch struggle. Chasen Bradford threw three scoreless innings in his Seattle debut as Seattle's second reliever on the night, then Motter became the eighth Mariners position player to pitch in a game, allowing a run in the eighth.
"Definitely not my best stuff tonight, by any means," Junis said. "You've got to battle and get through it. The offense did great tonight."
Junis said he has no regrets about the infield single that ended his no-hit bid.
"If we were playing straight up, that's a no-doubt hit," Junis said. "I wasn't disappointed. Just wanted to get out of the inning. Vogelbach and I played summer-league ball together in high school. .So if if anybody was going to do it, I was glad it was him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Royals rediscover runs: After totaling just six runs over their last five games, Kansas City jumped on Gonzales for three tallies in the first inning, with Moustakas delivering the big blow with a two-run double over the head of Seattle center fielder Dee Gordon. The Royals racked up five hits and a walk, as Gonzales needed 43 pitches to get out of the frame.
Little things add up:Paulo Orlando beat out a fielder's choice grounder in the fourth inning, just touching the bag before Robinson Cano's relay throw on an attempted 6-4-3 double play that would have ended the inning for Seattle reliever Casey Lawrence. Instead, a run scored as Orlando was safe at first, and that opened the door to a five-run frame that broke the game open for Kansas City. Cam Gallagher followed with an RBI double,Escobar singled in a run, and Andrew Butera ripped a two-run double to make it 9-0.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jorge Soler singled twice on Monday and is 5-for-7 in his past two games. Prior to that, he was 0-for-34 in the Majors dating back to July 2 last season.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Royals challenged an out call at first base in the second inning after a Moustakas bouncer caromed away from Cano. The second baseman retrieved the ball and threw quickly, but the out call was overturned.
Left-hander Eric Skoglund will make his first start of 2018 on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m. CT against the Mariners. Because of off-days and postponements, Skoglund, the No. 5 starter, will be appearing in a game for the first time since March 17. He was 1-2 with a 9.50 ERA in seven outings (five starts) with the Royals last year.
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Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City and covered the Royals on Monday.