KANSAS CITY — The long-ball woes continue for Royals right-hander Jakob Junis.
Junis, who came into Monday night’s game having given up a Major League-leading 22 home runs, surrendered two more, both to Francisco Lindor, and the Royals fell to the Indians, 9-3, at Kauffman Stadium.
The Royals have lost 22 of 26 games.
Lindor belted a grand slam in the fourth inning, and followed that up with a three-run shot in the sixth, chasing Junis. Lindor had a career-high seven RBIs.
“Home runs are great,” Lindor said. “They’re great. I love home runs, don’t get me wrong. When I see the ball go over the fence, it’s great. But I’m not trying. My job is to move guys, to get on base, to score, drive the ball. If it goes out, it goes out. I’m not trying to hit home runs. [If I try], that’s when I go on a 0-for-35 slump, so trying to stay away from that.”
Lindor’s slam, which came on a changeup, was preceded by a Yan Gomes single through the vacant spot in the shift, and two hit batters. Lindor’s three-run jack came on a 2-2 slider.
“I threw some good [changeups] early and got a lot of ground balls with it,” Junis said. “That pitch [to Lindor] wasn’t really bad. It was out and a little elevated, and he caught it out front and put it out of the park.
“[The slider was] inconsistent. Threw some good ones. Threw some bad ones. I got myself in trouble with a couple of hit batters and good teams take advantage of that.”
Royals manager Ned Yost said Junis’ problems are mostly mechanical.
“It’s really kind of an easy fix,” Yost said. “The changeup he got under. For the most part of the night, his changeup was really good. When he stays on top of his changeup, he’s got good life, good sink to it. When he gets on the side of the slider, he throws the spinner. When he stays behind it, it’s the really, really good one.”
Junis gave up eight hits and nine runs, eight earned, over 5 1/3 innings and his ERA ballooned to a season-high 5.13. He has given up 29 runs in his past five starts and has lost seven in a row.
“I’m just trying to go out there and grind it out, and do what I can right now,” Junis said of his recent slump. “Just trying to give 100 percent for this team.”
Added Yost, “I don’t worry about his attitude. You worry about his confidence more than anything else. Again, it’s an easy fix. When you’re off to the side of the slider it’s gonna be a cement mixer. That’s what happens when he gets off to the side and that’s what Lindor hit.”
The Royals actually struck first. Whit Merrifield led off the bottom of the first with a home run, his fifth, to left field off right-hander Corey Kluber. Later, Mike Moustakas doubled and scored — he barreled through third-base coach Mike Jirschele’s stop sign — on Salvador Perez’s single to center.
“He never saw [the stop sign],” Yost said of Moustakas. “By the time he did it was too late.”