The temperature at game time was 39 with a 10mph wind. It’s not easy to pitch in those conditions. Both Jakob Junis and Tigers’ starting pitcher Spencer Turnbull struggled with control in the first inning. In the second inning both settled down and had very quick innings.
Alex Gordon and Jorge Soler both had multi-hit games. Both are swinging the bat really well right now. Gordon hit his second home run in as many days.
Kyle Zimmer made his second appearance of the season and struggled on this cold day. He walked the only three batters he faced. He was around the strike zone and was ahead in the count on Miguel Cabrera. But those two runs allowed in the seventh were enough to give the Tigers the win.
The Royals have Friday off before playing in Detroit on Saturday and Sunday.
Whit Merrifield [2-for-5, 2 R, 1 K, 3B]
Whit extended his hitting streak to 26 games with a single to right-center field in the top of the third.
Adalberto Mondesi [0-for-4, 3K]
Mondesi did not look good today. He would probably prefer not to be playing in the cold weather. That’s not necessarily what you want from your best player if the team ever makes the playoffs. Those games can be cold as well. The Royals don’t have to worry about playoffs this year but they hope to be back there in 2-3 years.
Alex Gordon [2-for-2, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, HR]
Gordon is running the bases well early in the season. He scored on a well-placed double by Jorge Soler. The ball dropped into shallow right field near the line but Gordon got a good start and ran hard all the way around the bases.
Gordon is swinging the bat really well right now. His home run today gives him two in as many days. His two hits today drove in two runs.
Jorge Soler [2-for-4, RBI, BB, 2B]
Soler is swinging the bat well right now. Early in the season Soler has still been susceptible to the off-speed pitch down and away. Some pitchers have been taking advantage of that and making Soler look bad. When that doesn’t happen, Soler has had good at bats and has had some success at the plate. If Soler can stay healthy and get 500 at bats this season he should get better at handling those pitches causing him trouble right now and could be a big part of the Royals’ lineup next season.
Ryan O’Hearn [1-for-3, BB]
O’Hearn is doing a decent job at the plate right now. In the sixth inning he had a nice controlled swing and lined a lead off single to left field. He has a lot of power but didn’t try to do too much on this hit.
Chris Owings [0-for-4, 3 K]
Owings played good defense at third base today. He showed nice range to his left on a ground ball in the third inning to field the ball and throw out Miguel Cabrera at first base. His bat early in the season does not make up for how bad he has been at the plate. That needs to change or his defensive versatility is worthless.
Martin Maldonado [0-for-4]
Maldonado made a nice throw to second base in the fifth inning in an attempt to throw out Josh Harrison trying to steal. The throw was a nice one-hopper that Whit Merrifield missed. The error was charged to Maldonado but it was clearly Whit’s mistake. Maldonado’s defense has been big for the Royals already. The team is fortunate that he was available and could be signed to a one-year contract after Salvador Perez underwent Tommy John surgery.
Jakob Junis [53 GS, 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 102 P, 63 S, 1.50 WHIP]
Junis struggled with his control a lot at the beginning of the game. He walked the first two batters he faced and then gave up a long single to Miguel Cabrera that would have been a double for most batters. Junis settled down and pitched well after the first inning. With the weather Junis had to deal with, as well as how bad things started, allowing three runs in six innings was a really good outcome for Junis. Based on Bill James’ game score statistic, Junis’ start today was the second best start of the season for the Royals behind only Brad Keller’s Opening Day start.
Kyle Zimmer [L, 0 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 18 P, 6 S, INF WHIP]
Zimmer’s control did not ride with him to the ballpark Thursday. He faced just three batters and walked the bases loaded to start the bottom of the seventh inning. Once he gets regular work though I expect Zimmer to be one of the more dependable arms in the Royals’ bullpen.
Kevin McCarthy [1 IP, BB, 10 P, 5 S, 1.00 WHIP]
McCarthy replaced Zimmer and walked the first batter he faced to force in a run. After that walk McCarthy settled down and retired the next three batters. McCarthy allowed just one walk in his inning of work. Like everyone in the Royals’ bullpen McCarthy has struggled to start the season. However, he has shown some ability and I believe he will settle in and pitch well enough to be a useful piece in then for Ned Yost this season.
Brad Boxberger [1 IP, 2 K, 17 P, 10 S, 0.00 WHIP]
Boxberger looked real good in this game. He’s hard to figure out early in the season. He has games like this one where he has looked solid and then other games where he has looked just awful. Let’s hope he settles in and is closer to what the Royals got from him today.