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Here are 3 takeaways from Royals' win in G1

@FlannyMLB
May 1, 2019

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals held off the Rays, 3-2, in the opener of a traditional doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium. Here are three takeaways: 1. Solid outing by Junis Royals right-hander Jakob Junis delivered his second straight solid start, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up six

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals held off the Rays, 3-2, in the opener of a traditional doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

Here are three takeaways:

1. Solid outing by Junis

Royals right-hander Jakob Junis delivered his second straight solid start, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up six hits and two runs. Junis also got some help from reliever Jake Diekman, who came into the game in the seventh with the potential tying run on third and one out.

Diekman struck out pinch-hitter Mike Zunino with three terrific sliders, then got Brandon Lowe on a fly out to center on another slider. Right-hander Ian Kennedy pitched the final two frames for his second career save.

“We knew they would pinch-hit Zunino,” Royals manager Ned Yost said, “I just liked Diek’s slider there. He did a great job of keeping them off-balance.”

“The bullpen just did a great job,” Junis said. “Diekman coming in there with a guy on third and holding the lead was huge.”

2. Heads up play by Merrifield

The Royals averted perhaps a big inning by the Rays in the fourth after Tampa Bay’s first two hitters, Nate Lowe and Avisail Garcia, singled. Kevin Kiermaier then lifted a deep fly that Royals left fielder Alex Gordon chased down with an over-the-shoulder catch in the alley.

Lowe was nearly at third base when Gordon made the catch, and Garcia had rounded second. Garcia, though, didn’t re-tag second base as he hustled back to first, something second baseman Whit Merrifield spotted right away.

Once Merrifield got the ball, he simply touched second base for a double play. The Rays challenged, but the call stood. Willy Adames then flied out, and the inning was over.

“We all saw it,” Yost said of Garcia not retagging. “Whit saw it; everyone on the bench saw it. That was a big, big play in the game.”

“First of all, it was a great catch by Gordo,” Junis said. “And then to get a double play, that was huge, too. They had two guys on and no outs. Getting out of that was pretty big.”

3. Quick start

The Royals jumped on Rays opener Ryne Stanek for three runs in the first, the first runs they’ve scored against an opener in the last two years.

Merrifield led off with a hustle double to left-center. Adalberto Mondesi then stayed with a 2-1 slider and launched it into the right-field seats, for his fourth home run this season.

Later, rookie Kelvin Gutierrez delivered an RBI groundout, scoring Gordon and making it 3-0.

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