KANSAS CITY -- Royals right-hander Jakob Junis had struck out Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis twice with a heavy dose of sliders.
And Junis had Gattis looking confused again on sliders in his third at-bat. But then Junis tried to power a 94-mph four-seam fastball past Gattis, who instead turned it around and belted it for a grand slam to left-center field.
The blast turned a one-run Royals lead into a three-run deficit and they went on to lose their fourth straight, 7-3, on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City has lost 10 of 11.
Junis said he didn't second-guess himself for throwing a fastball to Gattis.
"I was hoping we'd get a flyout or a mis-hit ball," Junis said. "I didn't want to make the mistake of giving him too many sliders. I know I got him a couple of times with it. But I was having trouble keeping it down at that point and I didn't want to leave one right over the plate and have him take advantage of it. So we went heater and it just didn't go our way."
Junis was given a 2-0 lead when Mike Moustakas smoked a two-run double into the right-field corner in the third inning.
But the Astros got those runs right back when Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa homered in the fourth. Correa's blast, on a 3-1 four-seamer, traveled a projected 455 feet, according to Statcast™.
"[My stuff] was OK," Junis said. "Got through the lineup twice with just a couple of solo home runs. That third time through got me."
Added manager Ned Yost, "The homers just bit him again. Too bad because Gattis was going to be his last guy."
The Royals likely lost outfielder Jorge Soler for an extended period. Soler suffered a fracture to his first left metatarsal bone in his foot. The club plans on having a CT scan of the foot tomorrow, but Yost indicated Soler would be out "for a while."
It would appear unlikely the Royals will be able to make a roster move in time for Saturday's day game because Triple-A Omaha was playing a night game in Tacoma, Wash., and the time difference would make it challenging.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Royals seemed primed to break things open in the fifth. With one out, Paulo Orlando singled. Then Astros starter Charlie Morton lost his command, walking the next three hitters, the last coming to Moustakas which forced in a run. That gave the Royals a 3-2 lead. But Salvador Perez didn't wait for a potential fourth straight walk -- Perez went after the first pitch and rolled into a 5-4-3 double play, his team-leading 11th. The Royals have grounded into 68 double plays, tops in the Major Leagues.
Perez recorded his 21st career pickoff in the eighth inning when he nailed Josh Reddick, who had strayed off third. The 21 pickoffs are the most by any catcher since Perez came into the Majors in 2011.
Royals left-hander Danny Duffy (3-6, 5.28 ERA) takes the mound on Saturday at 1:15 p.m CT for the middle game of the series against the Astros at Kauffman Stadium. Duffy threw seven scoreless innings last Saturday against the A's with a season-high 10 strikeouts. Lefty Dallas Keuchel (3-8, 4.45) will start for Houston.