KANSAS CITY — Mark down another solid outing from Royals right-hander Jakob Junis, who continues to leave a midseason slump in his rear-view mirror.
Junis continued his mastery over the Tigers this season, improving to 4-0 against Detroit after going nine innings in a 6-2 victory Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium. It was Junis’ first complete game of his career. It also was the Royals’ first nine-inning complete game since Jason Vargas did it against Cleveland on June 2, 2017.
“It’s awesome,” Junis said. “That’s a goal you set to do. It was a great feeling, for sure, to accomplish that. Hopefully more to come. That’s your goal as a starting pitcher — to throw deep into a game. That’s what you ultimately want to do every day — go out there and try to get nine innings and save the bullpen, but obviously it doesn’t happen very often.
“You just take it for what it is, enjoy it, and come back for the next one.”
Junis gave up six hits and two runs while walking none and striking out seven.
Junis, 7-12, now has a 1.74 ERA against the Tigers in 2018.
“I don’t really have an answer for it,” Junis said. “They got some good hitters over there. We’ve seen each other a lot. At the beginning of the game, I think they had a good game plan against me. They were just waiting for me to throw a slider over the plate, and they were hitting it. We kinda had to switch it up and go fastball. That was definitely the turning point in the game.”
Junis was nicked for a run in the third when he gave up two singles and a sacrifice fly to Jeimer Candelario. Junis also hung a slider in the eighth to JaCoby Jones, who homered. But that’s only the third home run off Junis in his last eight starts — he had given up 26 in his first 22 starts.
“He’s much, much sharper now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Mechanically, he’s on top of the slider. That makes it a swing-and-miss slider to both sides of the plate. When he was giving up those homers, he was off to the side of the ball and throwing spinners. And he was flat under his fastball. Now he’s back on top and he’s got good downhill action.”
Meanwhile, the Royals’ offense gave Junis all the support he needed with a five-run third inning. Adalberto Mondesi led the inning off with his fifth home run this season, which came on a 0-2 sinker from Matthew Boyd. The home run traveled an estimated 410 feet per Statcast™.
“I was just trying to protect the plate,” Mondesi said. “I got my barrel on it.”
Jorge Bonifacio and Alcides Escobar delivered sacrifice flies in the inning, and Hunter Dozier smacked a two-run double to the fence in right field on Tuesday.