NEW YORK — It was a mixed bag for right-hander Jakob Junis on Friday night at Yankee Stadium: He was crisp in his first two innings against the Yankees, but he ended up getting hurt by the long ball as the Royals lost, 6-2.
Junis was given a 1-0 lead after 2 1/2 innings thanks to an Adalberto Mondesi RBI single, but in the bottom of the third, with Tyler Wade at first, Brett Gardner swung at a 2-0 pitch and hit the ball over the right-center-field wall to give New York a 2-1 advantage. Junis tried to pitch a four-seamer away from Gardner, but it hung in the center of the strike zone.
“I left it out over the plate, and he took advantage of it,” Junis said. “I thought the 1-0 pitch was pretty close. I didn’t get the call. I missed my spot up in the zone.”
Junis settled down and retired the next five hitters he faced. He felt it was one of his better outings, because his pitch count was down from previous starts and he induced nine ground-ball outs. Junis even felt his fastball command was better.
But then Mike Tauchman led off the fifth inning and swatted an 0-1 pitch for a homer, also over the right-center-field fence, to extend New York’s lead to two runs.
Alex Gordon doubled in a run in support of Junis in the sixth, but the starter had problems getting outs in the bottom of the frame. He was removed from the game after allowing a sacrifice fly to DJ LeMahieu and walking Clint Frazier, as ball four resulted in a passed ball by catcher Martín Maldonado that scored Luke Voit.
“I thought I was living down in the zone. A lot of ground balls,” Junis said. “Unfortunately, it didn’t go my way in the end. I didn’t give the team a good enough chance to win the game.”
Junis lasted 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and striking out two batters.
“I thought he threw [well]. He made a couple of mistakes, and they made him pay,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “The changeup to Tauchman was down, but it was center cut. The fastball to Gardner was up, but it was center cut. I thought [Junis] threw the ball OK. He managed his pitch count early. I thought his slider was much better, more consistent today. The Yankees just took advantage of a couple of mistakes.”