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Royals fend off a late rally in series-opening 7-5 win over Blue Jays

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Jakob Junis looked pretty good too, friends

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since Opening Week, the Royals offense came alive. Scoring seven runs in the first four innings, it looked as though they would cruise to a win. Instead, Kansas City had to fend off a late Blue Jays rally that saw the go-ahead run come to the plate in the 9th inning in a 7-5 win Thursday night.

In fact, it saw the go-ahead run come to the plate in the form of Vladimir Guerrero Jr, but that is neither here nor there.

The Royals entered the contest having scored just 24 runs in their past eight games after opening the season with 25 runs in their first two games. After scoring more than four runs just twice during that stretch, Kansas City came out firing against Blue Jays starter Anthony Kay.

Whit Merrifield singled to opening the Royals 1st inning and immediately scored on Andrew Benintendi’s opposite-field double to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. However, Kay did a nice job escaping the trouble with just one run given up, thanks in part to Benintendi being thrown out at third base.

But Kansas City weren’t done, jumping all over Kay in the 3rd and 4th inning for six runs. The first run was driven in by noted power hitter Nicky Lopez’s RBI triple down the left-field line. The Royals went up 3-0 on an unearned run, thanks to a Caven Biggio fielding error.

The floodgates opened in the 4th, with Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, and Hanser Alonso all doubling off of Kay, giving the Royals a cozy 7-0 lead.

And this all happened as Royals’ starter Jakob Junis looked good for the second consecutive start. Through four innings, Blue Jays hitters managed just two baserunners while striking out four times.

Junis got into some trouble in the 5th, giving up back-to-back singles to open the inning, but escaping unscathed. He wasn’t as lucky in the 6th, walking Bo Bichette to open the inning then walking Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He was replaced by Jake Newberry, who gave up a double to Joe Panik, bringing the lead down to 7-2.

It wasn’t the last trouble that Newberry would have, however. He followed that by walking a batter and throwing a wild pitch before giving up a two-run single to make it a 7-3 game. The Blue Jays got another run on a sac fly from Josh Palacios after Newberry was replaced by Kyle Zimmer to bring them to within three runs.

All in all, Junis delivered another solid performance, giving up just two runs in five innings of work, striking out six Blue Jays in the process. And he had more in the tank as well, throwing just 81 pitches.

Meanwhile, the offense went cold. Kansas City had seven hits in the first four innings, but managed just two the rest of the way, leaving the game in the hands of the bullpen. Zimmer ran into more trouble in the 7th, this time in the form of a Vladdy Jr tank over the fountains in left-center field.

And down just two runs, the Blue Jays put pressure on Scott Barlow with back-to-back singles to bring up the go-ahead run in Bichette. Fortunately, Barlow was able to get Bichette to pop out and Vladdy to strikeout to end the game.

The win gave the Royals their first winning streak of the season and improved their record to 7-4.

Up Next: Kansas City Royals v. Toronto Blue Jays, Friday, April 16, 7:10 PM CDT, Kauffman Stadium. LHP Mike Minor (1-0, 4.50 ERA) v. LHP Steven Matz (2-0, 1.46 ERA)