Things looked bleak for the Kansas City Royals after the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader. But in swooped Jake Junis to save the day.
And that’s pretty much where the similarities stop.
In the first game, Danny Duffy surrendered seven runs in the first two innings, putting the Royals in a hole they couldn’t climb out of, while Jakob Junis’ excellent outing in the nightcap shut down any Seattle hopes of a series win and allowed the Royals to escape with a split against the Mariners.
Merrifield, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas had seven of the Royals ten hits in the opener, but the race was effectively run in the first two innings. Danny Valencia and Kyle Seager homered in the first, Nelson Cruz followed suit with a three-run blast in the second, while a passed ball by Drew Butera allowed Jean Segura to score as well.
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So that was seven runs before Duffy and the Royals were able to accrue six outs. Math may not have been my strong suit, but I know long odds when I see them and the Royals were facing considerable odds before the third inning began.
There were some moments after that—Merrifield homered in the third, Moustakas in the eighth and a trio of runs were plated in the fifth. But Cruz homered again in the seventh and that, essentially, wrapped up the contest.
So yeah, Game One… not the finest moment during this chase for the postseason.
But along came Junis and wouldn’t you know it… throwing to his old buddy Cam Gallagher (making his first career start) turned Junis into a viable option in the starting rotation. In fact, I’d argue (and did on Twitter) that Junis’ performance should have him in the rotation, and being caught by Gallagher, for the season’s remainder.
Salvador Perez is currently out—no telling when he’ll be back. Drew Butera is a fine catcher and not a liability at the plate but he’s also not turning Quad-A players into strong starters in the American League, either. If Butera had to go down, or if Salvy was shelved until rosters expand, it would behoove Ned Yost and Co. to keep Junis around after a masterful eight-inning, four-hit, seven-strikeout performance.
- Merrifield and Melky Cabrera hit round-trippers in the third
- Eric Hosmer socked a big fly in the sixth
- Four runs came across in the seventh thanks to Cain (reached on an Espinosa error to score Gallagher), Hosmer (singled scoring Cain and Merrifield) and Cabrera (doubled in Hosmer).