The Kansas City Royals ended their scoreless run on Tuesday night. The team even went so far as to score six runs. That proved to be enough offense to end a five-game losing streak.
The biggest question going into Tuesday’s Kansas City Royals home game against the Rays was about a record that might be broken. A record nobody on the team would want to have associated with them.
The Royals had not scored a run since Thursday. It was a string of 43 consecutive innings that included three shutouts over the weekend in Cleveland and another on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium.
A scoreless first five innings would see the Kansas City Royals tie the record, and a sixth would see them own it outright. Through two innings, it appeared as though at least a share of the record would be earned—if that’s the right word for it.
Then Whit Merrifield happened.
The glorious spark-plug at the top of the Kansas City Royals batting order socked a solo home run with two outs in the third inning. His 16th homer of the season curled inside the left-field foul pole to put the team up 1-0.
Suddenly the cloud hanging over the team since Thursday’s disappointing loss to Colorado parted, and out of it came a 6-2 victory over the Rays. A five-game losing streak has come to an end, and the Kansas City Royals are back within one game of .500 at 65-66.
With the result, the Royals also jumped the Rays in the Wild Card standings. Heading into Wednesday, Kansas City, Texas and Seattle all sit three games behind Minnesota for the second Wild Card spot. Meanwhile, the Orioles (1.5 games) and the Angels (one game) sit between the triplets and the Twins.
While the offense breaking out was the big story of Tuesday’s game, the pitching of Jake Junis deserves mention.
Kansas City Royals
Without his stellar outing, the scoreless streak might have ended, but the losing streak likely would have continued. Junis put up zeros over the first five innings. That allowed the Kansas City Royals to build a 2-0 lead on a Mike Moustakas single in the bottom of the fourth.
The left-hander had been pitching extremely well recently. However, an RBI single by Logan Morrison and a walk to Steven Souza Jr. loaded the bases. Alexander, though, buckled down and got Corey Dickerson to ground out.
Rookie Jorge Bonifacio restored the two-run lead with a solo homer in the bottom half of the sixth. It proved to be a crucial run, as Brad Miller answered with his own solo shot in the seventh to pull the Rays within 3-2.
Eric Hosmer provided the insurance on Tuesday.
The first baseman’s most recent home run was a three-run, walk-off shot last Wednesday against former teammate Greg Holland. On Tuesday, his opposite-field blast in the seventh inning—another three-run shot—helped ease the pressure on an inconsistent bullpen.
Hosmer’s homer also gave the Kansas City Royals their first inning with a crooked number since that ninth inning last Wednesday. In between, there were five frames with just one run and 46 with no runs.
The Kansas City Royals will need to see an increase in their multiple-run innings to really put together a playoff push. The team will also need to see more pitchers than just Junis step up when handed a start. That is asking a lot of this team.
But if those things happen, the Kansas City Royals will make some noise in the month of September and, just maybe, October.