Royals

Royals fall 9-0 to Angels as winning streak ends at six games

Royals starting pitcher Jake Junis got knocked around early by the Angels on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.
Royals starting pitcher Jake Junis got knocked around early by the Angels on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif. The Associated Press

Before Saturday night at Angel Stadium, Albert Pujols had hit 22 career homers in 90 games against the Royals, the professional baseball team from his adopted hometown.

Pujols, 37 years old and aging, is not the superstar he once was. His power has diminished. His legs are basically shot. A few weeks ago, he became the ninth player in history to reach 600 homers. Yet as he started another game at designated hitter for the Los Angeles Angels, his OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) sat at .656, nearly 300 points below his career average.

Pujols, a graduate of Fort Osage High School, does not strike fear in opposing pitchers like he once did. But for a swing here, or a swing there, he can resemble his old self. So it was in the fifth inning on Saturday night against Royals rookie starter Jakob Junis.

On an 0-1 count, Junis threw a sinker that moved toward the inner third of the plate. Pujols released his hands and roped the baseball over the wall in left-center.

“I thought it was a decent pitch,” Junis would say. “I thought he had swung through two of those in the previous at-bat. … He’s one of the best hitters of all time. So give him credit.”

In a 9-0 loss to the Angels, the two-run shot served as the finishing punch in an early flurry. The Royals trailed 5-0 after five innings as the shadows danced around Angel Stadium, causing headaches for hitters. A six-game winning streak died as Junis was knocked for five earned runs and eight hits in 5  1/3 innings.

Kansas City Star sports writers Blair Kerkhoff and Vahe Gregorian discussed the Kansas City Royals' recent success on the road and what the team's prospects may be for the coming games during a Facebook Live broadcast on Thursday, June 15, 2017.

The afternoon and evening shadows, Royals manager Ned Yost said, contributed to a quiet offensive performance against Los Angeles’ Alex Meyer, who tossed six scoreless innings. But they could not rescue Junis.

“We knew it would be an issue,” Yost said. “But it would be an issue for both sides.”

In his fourth career start, Junis could not build on a solid seven-inning performance in San Diego last Sunday. He surrendered a leadoff homer to Cameron Maybin in the first. He was ambushed for two runs and four hits in the fourth. He was introduced to Pujols in the fifth.

“Just a few pitches got away,” he said.

The Angels pounced on his sinker and kept on the attack. The Royals’ offense, facing another young starter, could not keep pace. Meyer, a 6-foot-9 right-hander, cooled off a lineup that had averaged 7.5 runs per game during a six-game winning streak. Armed with a devastating curveball and a mid 90s fastball, he yielded just two hits in six innings, striking out nine.

“You don’t see a lot of breaking balls like that,” Yost said. “[Houston’s Lance] McCullers has got one.”

The Royals (32-35) finished the day 3  1/2 games out of first place as AL Central Division leaders Cleveland and Minnesota played a doubleheader at Target Field in Minneapolis. The Indians claimed the first game, drawing even in the standings. They took the second game on late Saturday night, grabbing hold of the division lead. The Royals will conclude a nine-game road trip on Sunday when Jason Vargas takes the mound.

Back in Anaheim, the night transformed into a rout after Royals reliever Chris Young appeared with one out in the sixth. The Angels popped Young for four runs in the seventh as the 6-foot-10 right-hander spent another evening getting pummeled, soaking up innings as the Royals’ mop-up man turned occasional white flag.

In 30 innings this season, Young has posted a 7.50 ERA while surrendering seven homers. On Saturday, he served up a three-run shot to Luis Valbuena on a 1-2 slider in the seventh.

In some ways, the late runs mattered little. For six innings, the Royals could not handle Meyer, 27, who had allowed just three earned runs across 16  2/3 innings in his last three starts. A former first-round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2011, Meyer had spent much of the 2016 season hamstrung by a soaring walk rate, issuing 6.53 per nine innings. His fastball command was often erratic. The extra base runners were his demise. Facing the Royals, who entered the day last in the majors with 160 walks, that would be no problem.

“This is one of the games that you hope for, where he bottled the stuff with command,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He was in the zone with terrific stuff all afternoon.”

The Royals drew just one walk in six innings. Meyer struck out first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas and designated hitter Cheslor Cuthbert two times apiece. The raw stuff, combined with the hitting conditions in a 5 p.m. start time, made for a treacherous task.

“The first couple innings,” second baseman Whit Merrifield said, “we weren’t really seeing anything.”

For another night, the Angels were without center fielder Mike Trout, the reigning American League Most Valuable player and the consensus best player in the world. Slated to miss six to eight weeks after tearing a ligament in his left thumb, Trout will not play again before July.

For the Angels, the loss is somewhat immeasurable.

One of the most dynamic two-way players in baseball, Trout can change a game with a potent mix of power, speed and defense. Yet for three weeks, the Angels have cobbled together enough victories to stay afloat. Thy entered Saturday with a 9-9 record with Trout on the bench. And in the bottom of the first, Maybin, one of his replacements in center, saw a first-pitch sinker from Junis and hammered a 430-foot shot to center field.

The lead would hold up. After six straight wins, the Royals were shut out for a seventh time this season. After opening the road trip with a 6-2 record, they will now look for one more win on Sunday afternoon.

“We’re not done yet,” Yost said. “We’re not done. We’ve got another game tomorrow.”

Kansas City Royals catcher Drew Butera recently joined The Kansas City Star's Lee Judge for a meal at Garōzzo's Ristorante. The three-part video series is now available to watch on KansasCity.com.

 

Angels 9, Royals 0

Royals

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Merrifield 2b-lf

4

0

0

0

0

0

.288

Bonifacio rf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.251

Cain cf

2

0

1

0

1

1

.285

Torres 2b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.333

Hosmer 1b

3

0

1

0

0

2

.310

Moss 1b

1

0

0

0

0

0

.181

Moustakas 3b

3

0

0

0

0

2

.278

Cuthbert dh

3

0

0

0

0

3

.203

A.Escobar ss

3

0

0

0

0

1

.195

Gordon lf-cf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.193

Butera c

3

0

0

0

0

0

.237

Totals

30

0

2

0

1

12

 

Angels

AB

R

H

BI

W

K

Avg.

Maybin cf

4

2

2

1

0

1

.267

Revere lf

1

0

0

0

0

1

.206

Calhoun rf

5

1

1

1

0

1

.237

Pujols dh

4

2

3

2

0

0

.240

Y.Escobar 3b

4

1

1

0

0

1

.270

Valbuena 1b

4

2

2

3

0

1

.185

Simmons ss

4

1

1

0

0

1

.273

Pennington ss

0

0

0

0

0

0

.226

Young Jr. lf-cf

3

0

1

0

0

1

.311

Maldonado c

2

0

1

0

0

0

.253

Espinosa 2b

4

0

1

2

0

2

.170

Totals

35

9

13

9

0

9

 

Royals

000

000

000

0

2

0

Angels

100

220

40x

9

13

2

E: Y.Escobar (10), Espinosa (2). LOB: Kansas City 4, Los Angeles 5. 2B: Maybin (13). HR: Maybin (4), off Junis; Pujols (11), off Junis; Valbuena (4), off Young. RBIs: Maybin (14), Calhoun (32), Pujols 2 (48), Valbuena 3 (17), Espinosa 2 (26). SB: Cain 2 (14), Maybin (21). CS: Maldonado (1).

Runners left in scoring position: Kansas City 3 (Hosmer 2, Moustakas); Los Angeles 1 (Espinosa). RISP: Kansas City 0 for 3; Los Angeles 3 for 6. Runners moved up: Bonifacio, Calhoun. GIDP: Bonifacio. DP: Los Angeles 1 (Simmons, Espinosa, Valbuena).

Royals

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Junis L, 2-1

5.1

8

5

5

0

6

89

5.56

Young

1.2

5

4

4

0

1

32

7.50

Wood

1

0

0

0

0

2

12

7.01

Angels

I

H

R

ER

W

K

P

ERA

Meyer W, 3-3

6

2

0

0

1

9

94

3.52

Parker

1

0

0

0

0

1

15

1.95

Bedrosian

1

0

0

0

0

1

17

0.00

Petit

1

0

0

0

0

1

12

2.66

Inherited runners-scored: Young 1-0. HBP: Junis 3 (Young Jr., Maldonado, Maldonado).

Umpires: Home, Mark Carlson; First, Manny Gonzalez; Second, Fieldin Culbreth; Third, CB Bucknor. Time: 2:51. Att: 41,209.

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