Adalberto Mondesi’s big offensive day helps Royals trounce Rays and avoid series sweep

The Royals wrapped up their 10-game road swing with a 10-run performance spearheaded by budding star shortstop Adalberto Mondesi’s standout offensive performance.

Jakob Junis handcuffed the Tampa Bay Rays lineup for five innings before taking a line drive off his hand and leaving with a seven-run lead, and the Royals offense kept applying pressure during a 10-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 9,502 Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field.

Mondesi went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. Whit Merrifield reached base four times, including two walks, and also hit a home run. Billy Hamilton also had two hits and two RBIs, while Terrance Gore, Cam Gallagher and Jorge Soler collected two hits apiece.

Mondesi, who started this trip hitless on the road, registered four or more RBIs in a game for the third time in his career. He also had his third three-hit game of the season. His five hits in the last two games of the series matched his hit total from his first 10 road games.

“It just happens,” Mondesi said of his previous road struggles. “I cannot put my head down. I just need to keep battling and I know things are going to work out.”

Mondesi certainly didn’t let any of his ups and downs on the road take away from his aggressiveness on the bases. In the third inning following Merrifield’s home run, Mondesi was thrown out trying to stretch a single to left field into a double.

“I always play hard. Every time I hit the ball I want to advance to the next base,” Mondesi said. “It happened, but that’s not going to take me away from how I play the game.”

After Hamilton’s RBI double into the right field corner made the score 4-1 in the fourth, the Royals stretched their lead with a four-run sixth inning highlighted by Hamilton’s RBI triple to left center field and a three-run home run crushed by Mondesi.

The Royals (8-17) avoided a three-game sweep and snapped a five-game losing streak. They went 3-7 on the road trip, and they’ll now have an off day followed by a return to their home ballpark on Friday night to face the LA Angels.

“Streaks are what they are,” Merrifield said. “We just try to take it one game at a time. Like I’ve said before, we’re aware of the talent we have. We’re aware of who we have, and we’ve got guys that are here to win. But we just haven’t done a good job winning.

“We’ve got to learn how to win games. We’ve got to learn how to score runs late when we need to. We’ve got to learn how to shut down guys when we need to. Today was a culmination of putting everything together. It was an all-around good day for us.”

KC recorded a season-high in runs and swatted 14 hits.

Junis (2-2) struck out six and allowed one run on four hits and two walks in five innings. He left after taking a line drive off of his throwing hand in the fifth inning. He gathered himself quickly enough to scoop up the ball and start an inning-ending double play.

“It was a two-seamer in that got in on his hands,” Junis said. “He hit it right back at me, and it was like my hand kind of crept inside my glove and clipped my pinkie. Luckily, it dropped right by my feet. Didn’t hesitate, went straight to second and got the double play and got out of the inning so it was huge.”

The Royals scored four in the top of the sixth, and Junis handed over an 8-1 lead to the bullpen. Junis said he had X-rays that were negative and that his hand was just swollen.

The Rays strung together three singles for a run in the seventh against reliever Ian Kennedy.

Ryan O’Hearn’s sacrifice fly pushed the ninth run across for the Royals in the seventh inning. Merrifield scored on a Mondesi single in the eighth.

Asked about the importance of stopping the slide and wrapping up the road trip on a good note, Royals manager Ned Yost said, “I mean, the answer to that is always going to be yes. This was a rough trip for us. What did we win? Three games? But we could have won more and had a decent trip. But we come home with a nice win and an off day tomorrow.”

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Lynn Worthy covers the Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball for The Star. A native of the Northeast, he’s covered high school, collegiate and professional sports for The Lowell Sun, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, Allentown Morning Call and The Salt Lake Tribune. He’s won awards for sports features and sports columns.