The Royals broke into the W column Monday for the first time in four days with a 4-0 win over the San Diego Padres at Surprise Stadium. But they were not able to keep the momentum in the second game of a split doubleheader, as they lost 5-1 to the Texas Rangers.
Starter Jakob Junis appeared to be in mid-season form in just his second outing of the Cactus League season during the day game. He no-hit the Padres through four innings and the only player to reach base was Christian Villanueva, who was hit by an errant pitch.
Junis struck out seven of the 13 batters he faced. He was able to control all of his pitches, including a new curveball he hopes to work in alongside his slider.
“I was throwing everything for a strike,” Junis said. “Any time you can throw four pitches for strikes and keep the hitter off-balance, you’re going to have success.”
Royals relievers Glenn Sparkman, Blaine Boyer, Scott Blewett and Heath Fillmyer only allowed two hits to the Padres. All but Blewett struck out a batter.
After getting through 1 2/3 innings, Sparkman issued back-to-back walks in the sixth. But Boyer, a veteran reliever in spring-training camp on a minor-league deal, retired Villanueva and the next three batters he faced.
The Royals were limited to just five hits. But non-roster invitee Michael Saunders, who is fighting for inclusion on the 25-man roster, stroked a two-out double to right-center field that cleared the bases in the third inning. The three-run hit doubled his spring RBI total to six.
Salvador Perez opened scoring in the second inning on a leadoff homer that traveled beyond the 379-foot marker in left-center field. It was his third home run of the spring.
Second baseman Whit Merrifield collected his 15th hit of the spring and Jon Jay registered his first two-hit performance in his third game in a Royals uniform.
In the night game, Rule-5 acquisition Burch Smith struggled for the second straight outing. He allowed four runs, two of which were earned, and couldn't command his fastball throughout his two-inning stint. Smith has allowed seven earned runs in eight innings for the Royals this spring.
Smith and Junis lead the team with 10 strikeouts each.
The Rangers shut down the Royals' offense. Starter Jesse Chavez was perfect in his three innings, and both Jake Diekman and Alex Claudio retained the perfect game through five innings.
Ramon Torres, who's hit .391 (9 for 23) this spring, tallied the Royals' first hit of the nightcap in the sixth inning.
Frank Schwindel, who had one hit in 22 Cactus League at-bats, drilled a home run to left field to lead off the seventh and give the Royals their only score of the game.
The Royals (8-9-1) will continue a four-game homestand Tuesday with a 3 p.m. game against the Oakland Athletics.