That cockeyed optimist friend of yours who thought that Jakob Junis had become some de facto ace, the special sort of pitcher who can get by throwing basically two pitches? Tell them to slow their roll.
The night began with both the hometown Kansas City Royals and the visiting Chicago White Sox taking the field hoping to win their sixth game in more than 20 tries. Just half a game separated them in their race to last place in the American League Central, a race rendering their respective seasons little more than exercises in futility, small victories and the rare developmental hurdle cleared the only things bringing even a shred of focus to a 162-game slog that sadly has to be played out despite the utter meaninglessness of the entire endeavor.
When the game mercifully ended, the arguable highlight of the night for Royals fans was the Royals Charities Broadcast Auction playing out on air. Yes, aside from Jorge Soler hanging dong, an intragame telethon was probably the apex of entertainment brought to the Kansas City metro area tonight courtesy of this ball club.
The Pale Hoes wasted little time in striking against the similarly lowly Royals. On the second pitch of the game, leadoff monster Yoán Moncada licked his lips as a 92-MPH two-seamer grooved toward him middle-in. He uncorked his muscular, fast-twitch swing and thrashed that ball into the bullpen in right, putting a 112.1-MPH charge into the ball and leading off the second straight game with a dong.
Royal righty Jakob “Or Maybe Just Call Me ‘Jake’” Junis retired the next six White Sox he faced. Sandwiched in the middle of those three-out sets, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito put down the Royals in order in the bottom of the first, but he put two aboard in the second, when he remembered who he was and walked both Lucas Duda and Jorge Soler. Alex Gordon and Ryan Goins flied out harmlessly to end the Royals’ shot at scoring. Given the generally pervasive ineptitude of the Royals’ offense, it seemed fair to assume that the Royals only shot at scoring a run had died on the vine like it had been drafted and “developed” by the Royals in the Post-Ladnier Era.
Junis sent down the next two Pail Hose before facing Yoán Moncada again. Moncada ripped a single to left, but Junis retired Tim Anderson via a 6-4 force at second, and the game pouted on to the bottom of the third.
Surprising to exactly no one, the Royals did not score in the home half of the third. The same cannot be said for the visiting Pail Hoes in the top of the fourth. After getting Yolmer Sánchez to fly out to start the inning, Junis hung a breaking ball to opposing catcher Welington Castillo. Castillo sent that hanger into the bleachers in left. Dong hung. Two batters later, Matt Davidson ripped an inside fastball into the seats right next to the pen. Another dong hung, the third on the day for the Pail Hose for those keeping track at home.
Mike Moustakas became the first Royal to reach base via a hit—an infield single—in the bottom of the fourth. Salvador Pérez and Lucas Duda failed to do anything following the leadoff baserunner, and it looked as though another chance to put runs on the board might be squandered by the Royals. Jorge Soler had something to say about that, though. Soler sent a moonshot into the bullpen in left, hanging dong thanks to a Giolito fastball in a hair off the plate.
With the Royals’ offense attempting to claw back into the game, Trayce Thompson drilled a two-seamer down the heart of the strike zone 431 feet to straight-away center. 4-2, Pail Hose.
Junis escaped the fifth without allowing further damage, and Goins led things off with a gapper that had triple written all over it. Through some form of alchemy (Adam Engel seemed to close fast, but Goins could just as easily be not fast—more on that in a second), he was held to a double. Alcides Escobar grounded out to the right side of the infield, pushing Goins to third with one out.
Jon Jay stepped to the plate, and the former Supreme Court Justice poked a grounder just to the left of the mound. Ryan Goins hesitated on contact—apparently unable to tell whether Giolito would be able to magically stop falling off the mound to his left after uncorking a pitch to afford himself the opportunity to field a ball to his right—and then broke for home. Tim Anderson—who was playing back—charged, barehanded the ball off the grass, and fired a throw home. Goins was gunned down at the plate, leading toddlers across the Heartland to wonder, Wait, if this not-young/no-upside guy can’t really hit and can’t really field and can’t really run, then what’s he doing on this admittedly terrible baseball team?
Welington Castillo drew a one-out walk in the top of the sixth, and because control is a fickle mistress and a theoretical construct that man has yet to fully grasp, Jake Junis uncorked a wild pitch to move the plodding catcher up a station. A batter later, Junis busted out his karaoke go-to track and his cherry-red latex cat suit and settled in, first unleashing his second wild pitch of the frame and then hanging another goddamn slider to Matt Davidson, who hung another goddamn dong to way the hell out of the ballpark. It was a mammoth dong. 450 feet to left-center. It was so demoralizing that the walk-averse Junis walked Leury García, a man only known to Royals fans because they have to watch 19 games a year featuring these miserable teams.
That walk brought out the hook. Ned Yost fingered southpaw Brian Flynn. Flynn served up a fastball on his first pitch, and Trayce Thompson sent it 381 feet into the air in left, pushing Alex Gordon against the wall on the warning track to make the play mere feet from becoming the sixth dong hung by the White Sox, whose total dongage has chipped away at the author’s resolve so much that he doesn’t have the energy to go back and figure out what completely inane play on Pale Hose he last used.
The Royals wasted a leadoff double from Mike Moustakas and a no-out single from Salvador Pérez the next inning because why wouldn’t they? Some other stuff happened—a fielding boner resulting in a “hit,” another boner in foul territory resulting in a non-out, both boners involving Lucas Duda, though the first boner was more on Flynn than Duda—but nothing that mattered (a term employed here with the full knowledge that nothing really matters) until the eighth.
The Royals put the leadoff man aboard in seven innings. Just one of those dudes scored. They loaded the bases in the eighth with just one out. After Goins popped out in foul territory, Alcides Escobar lined a single to center, but only Pérez came in to score as Engel put a throw home right on the money, halting the Royals baserunners and ultimately their charge. Nate Jones extricated himself from his self-made mess in striking out the second Governor of New York to end the threat.
Joakim Soria came out to close out the game for the Chicago guys. Abraham Almonte poked a double into the corner in right a pitch after Tim Anderson overran a fly ball in foul territory in a full sprint to keep Almonte alive. Mike Moustakas moved him up a station to third with a groundout to first, but Pérez struck out and Duda flew out to left to end yet another scoring threat for the Royals.
The Royals stranded 11 baserunners. Junis ended up yielding six runs, all of them earned, on six hits and two walks, striking out five along the way. Of course, five of those six hits were dongs. They lost 6-3 to run their record to an astounding 5-18 while disabusing emboldened Royals fans of the thought that Jake Junis was an oasis in the 2018 desert.
Chicago became the antepenultimate team to notch their sixth win—their record now 6-16. Just the Royals and Reds remain in the hallowed Five-Win Club.