For the second consecutive game the Kansas City Royals channeled their inner 2015, summoning impeccable late-game hitting and shutdown bullpen work to once again vanquish the evil St. Louis Cardinals. This afternoon’s contest ended with a 5-2 score in favor of Kansas City after the Royals scored a trio of runs in the 10th inning.
If you thought that Jake Junis would be the Royals’ best starting pitcher this year in your preseason predictions, congratulations: you are correct. Junis started off a bit wobbly against Cardinals. After a clean first inning a few Cardinals made good contact against Junis. Tyler O’Neill and Jedd Gyorko led off with a single and a double, respectively, and Harrison Bader scored O’Neill on a groundout. Francisco Pena doubled to score Gyorko, but Junis coaxed a fly out from pitcher Michael Wacha to end the inning. Thanks, National League rules!
Other than that, Junis soared through the Cardinals lineup, pitching five pretty clean innings. He ended with five hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts, and outside of the second inning was never in danger. Abraham Almonte pinch hit for Junis in the sixth inning, spelling the end of his start. Boo, National League rules!
The Royals nabbed only a few runs of their own in standard regulation innings. Salvador Perez, making his first start at first base since 2013 and doing so because of his hot bat, rewarded Manager Ned Yost for the creative play by notching a sweet solo dong in the second inning. It was his eighth home run of this season, and Perez is once again safely on track to hit at least 20 homers for the fourth consecutive year. Their other run came in the sixth through small ball: Abraham Almonte singled, hustled to second on a throwing error, was sacrifice bunted to third by Jon Jay, and then scored on a sac fly by Whit Merrifield.
By the end of the ninth inning, the Royals and Cardinals were all tied up, 2-2 all. But, again, the Royals persevered and punished St. Louis through death by a thousand paper cuts in the 10th inning. Jorge Soler led off with a ground ball single. Alex Gordon knocked a single of his own. Alcides Escobar then sacrifice bunted, but pitcher Bud Norris threw it away, allowing Escobar to get to first on the error. Then the Royals scored three runs by—you guessed it—singles! Drew Butera and Jon Jay got in on the singles action, and after an intentional walk of Merrifield, pitcher Brett Cecil unintentionally walked Moustakas to load the bases for the second time in the inning. The third pitcher of the inning, Mike Mayers, managed to get Perez to pop out for the final out of the inning.
But it was too late. Kelvin Herrera locked down an effortless save, and that was that. Kansas City won the game and the series against the Cards.
Tomorrow, the Royals travel to Texas to play the Rangers for a four-game weekend series in Arlington before coming back to Kauffman Stadium for a three-game set against the Twins. The Royals are 16-33.