Kansas City Royals

Jakob Junis pitches another gem as Royals hold on for a 1-0 win

Royals starting pitcher Jakob Junis and Indians starter Adam Plutko held the opposing offenses almost entirely silent, but Hunter Dozier’s 15th home run of the season — a solo shot in the first inning that kept carrying into the right-field stands — provided all the offense required to decide the ballgame.

Junis and the bullpen contingent of Scott Barlow, Jake Diekman and Ian Kennedy kept the Cleveland Indians out of the scoring column as the Royals picked up a 1-0 win in front on an announced 31,958 at Progressive Field for the second game of a three-game series.

“Pitching on both sides was tremendous,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It was just an old-fashioned good — if you like that type of thing — pitching duel.”

The last time the Royals (37-63) won a 1-0 game came against Houston on June 22, 2018.

The Royals have now won seven of nine games since the All-Star break, and they evened this series up at one game apiece heading into Sunday afternoon’s rubber match.

Junis allowed two hits and walked three in six scoreless innings. He struck out seven and retired 12 in a row before two men reached in the sixth.

Junis, coming off of a career-high 10 strikeouts in his previous start against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium, faced the Indians for the fourth time this season.

Junis (6-8) gave up just one hit and two walks through the first five innings. The second time through the lineup, he struck out six (four swinging) as he protected a 1-0 lead.

“That first time through the lineup I wasn’t super sharp,” Junis said. “They hit some balls decently hard, and I wasn’t making great pitches and getting ahead. I had a couple 3-0 and 3-1 outs. So it was just getting ahead that second time through the lineup and finding that slider, working off that.”

In the sixth, Royals outfielder Billy Hamilton threw his hat in the ring for catch of the year when he went up the wall in center field and robbed what was perhaps a game-tying homer and at least an extra-base hit from Francisco Lindor.

“It was one of those tough times at night, twilight, and I actually took my eye off it a little but I got it back,” Hamilton said of his catch. “I just wanted, with no one on base, trying to keep guys off base. … I think it’s worth it to take a chance there.”

Hamilton ran back toward left field for a few seconds before actually taking the ball out of his glove. It was just long enough to create a glimmer of doubt whether he caught it.

“He kept going back, I thought it might have been a home run or at least off the top of the wall for extra bases,” Junis said. “That was huge at that point in the game. He led off the inning. To keep him off base and save a run potentially was awesome. Unbelievable catch.”

Junis allowed two runners to reach in that inning via a walk and a single, but he struck out Jose Ramirez on a called third strike to strand both men on base.

The Royals missed out on an opportunity to tack on a run in the eighth after a leadoff double by Cam Gallagher. With Gallagher on second, Hamilton whiffed on a bunt attempt and Indians catcher Roberto Perez alertly threw down to second and caught Gallagher straying too far from the bag.

Gallagher got caught in a rundown, and Hamilton struck out shortly thereafter. Instead of possibly having Gallagher on third and one out with Whit Merrifield coming up in an RBI situation, Merrifield came up with two outs and no one on base.

Merrifield and Alex Gordon reached on singles, but Dozier hit an inning-ending fly ball to right field.

In the top of the ninth, a bunt attempt by Humberto Arteaga with runners on first and second and no outs turned into a double play to wipe away another promising scoring chance for the Royals.

However, Kennedy pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his 17th save of the season.

Royals 1, Indians 0

Kansas City

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Merrifield rf

4

0

1

0

0

0

.313

Gordon lf

4

0

1

0

0

1

.281

Dozier 3b

4

1

1

1

0

1

.290

Soler dh

2

0

0

0

2

0

.245

Cuthbert 1b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.293

Arteaga ss

4

0

0

0

0

0

.224

Lopez 2b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.234

Gallagher c

3

0

2

0

0

1

.235

Hamilton cf

3

0

0

0

0

1

.218

Totals

32

1

6

1

2

5

Cleveland

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

Avg.

Lindor ss

4

0

1

0

0

1

.290

Mercado cf

4

0

0

0

0

1

.294

Santana 1b

2

0

0

0

2

2

.284

Kipnis 2b

4

0

1

0

0

1

.243

Ramirez 3b

4

0

0

0

0

1

.229

Bauers dh

4

0

0

0

0

2

.243

R.Perez c

2

0

0

0

1

2

.239

Allen lf

3

0

1

0

0

1

.232

Naquin rf

3

0

0

0

0

2

.288

Totals

30

0

3

0

3

13

Kansas City

100

000

000

1

6

0

Cleveland

000

000

000

0

3

1

E—Plutko (2). LOB—Kansas City 6, Cleveland 6. 2B—Gallagher 2 (6), Allen (5). HR—Dozier (15), off Plutko. RBIs—Dozier (53). CS—Gallagher (1).

Runners left in scoring position—Kansas City 3 (Merrifield, Dozier 2); Cleveland 3 (Ramirez 2, Naquin). RISP—Kansas City 0 for 6; Cleveland 0 for 4.

Runners moved up—Gordon, Arteaga. GIDP—Arteaga.

DP—Kansas City 1 (Arteaga, Lopez, Cuthbert); Cleveland 1 (Ramirez, Lindor, Wittgren).

Kansas City

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Junis, W, 6-8

6

2

0

0

3

7

94

4.83

Barlow, H, 5

1

1

0

0

0

2

20

6.00

Diekman, H, 16

1

0

0

0

0

2

11

4.76

Kennedy, S, 17-20

1

0

0

0

0

2

10

3.35

Cleveland

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

NP

ERA

Plutko, L, 3-2

7

2

1

1

1

4

103

4.81

Clippard

1

3

0

0

0

1

15

3.52

Wittgren

1

1

0

0

1

0

20

3.11

Umpires—Home, Ryan Blakney; First, Chad Fairchild; Second, Mike Estabrook; Third, Alfonso Marquez.

T—2:41. A—31,958 (35,225).

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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.
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