The Royals scared all of us. A 7-0 lead should let fans relax for the rest of the game, but that wasn’t the case Thursday.
Big Picture: The Royals got two hits each from Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier. Both had struggled at the plate early in the season. And the Royals took a 7-0 but had to hold on for a 7-5 win. Blowing that lead would have been devastating. But they held on for the win and remained in first place for at least one more day.
Benintendi Starting To Heat Up: I understand why people say that Andrew Benintendi is off to a slow start. He has been a little frustrating. Nobody is more frustrated than Benintendi himself.
But he hasn’t been awful. Benintendi has had a hit in nine of his 11 games. But until Wednesday, he had not had a multi-hit game, nor an extra-base hit. Wednesday, he ended both of those streaks, going 2-for-5 with a double.
Thursday, he did it again. He didn’t get a multi-hit game, but he went 1-for-4 with another double, and this one was beautiful. With Whit Merrifield on first base in the first inning, Benintendi hit a pitch to left-center for a double that scored Whit. Two batters into the game, the Royals had a 1-0 lead.
Jakob Junis Dominates: We have talked a lot about Jakob Junis’ spring training performance and how we don’t put much stock in those numbers. There have been many players who have had a wonderful spring, only to never have success at the major league level.
But Junis added a new pitch in the offseason. He added a cutter that seems to have resurrected his career as a starting pitcher. Nothing has been officially announced, but he’s a clear choice for the fifth spot in the rotation after his start on Thursday.
And Thursday, Junis was terrific through five innings. It wasn’t until the sixth inning that he started to have trouble. But overall, Junis went 5+ innings and allowed just two runs on five hits and one walk.
Jakob Junis has earned a spot in the rotation. I didn’t see it happening at the start of spring training. But you have to give the guy credit. He worked hard this offseason, and it shows. He is as good as anyone in the rotation right now. There is no way he doesn’t get that final spot.
How About That Fourth Inning? One run in the first and two in the third were nice. They gave the Royals a decent lead. But it was the fourth inning that won the game for the Royals.
Jorge Soler had a rare hit for him this season, and it was a double to lead off the inning. Michael Taylor flew out to center, but it was deep enough for Soler to advance to third. At this point, I was focused on getting that run in and going up 4-0. The Royals had bigger ideas.
Hunter Dozier, who has been struggling this season because of a thumb injury, doubled to left and scored Soler.
That would have been enough to make it a successful inning. Add even one run to the lead, and things start to get pretty difficult on the Blue Jays. But Hanser Alberto wanted in on the fun, and he doubled as well and scored Dozier.
Nicky Lopez kept up his good plate appearances with a walk right before Whit Merrifield reached on one of two Cavan Biggio errors. The error allowed both Alberto and Lopez.
The rout appeared to be on. But the game would soon tighten up.
I’m Gonna Watch The Sixth Till My Eyes Bleed. Is that dope enough? Indeed! That’s a long way of saying the sixth inning hurt the eyes of Royals fans. A game that should have been a laugher turned into something that was on the edge of a collapse.
Jakob Junis started the sixth but would only last two batters. A walk to Bo Bichette and a single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. bounced him from the game after a wonderful outing.
Mike Matheny clearly felt comfortable with the lead because he brought Jake Newberry into the game. And although Newberry struck out the first batter he faced, Randal Grichuk, he then allowed a double to Joe Panik, walked Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and then a single to load the bases.
Clearly, Matheny started feeling concerned at this point because Newberry was out of the game, and Kyle Zimmer, one of the best relief pitchers on the team so far this season, was in. But this time, Zimmer wouldn’t have an easy outing. Zimmer got out of the sixth without any more trouble but then allowed a home run to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the seventh.
Next Up: Game Two of this series between the Royals and Toronto Blue Jays takes place at 7:10 pm Friday. Mike Minor gets the start for the Royals. Steven Matz takes the mound for Toronto.
Thanks for reading…
|Guerrero Jr., 1b||56||5||2||3||1||0||1||1||0||1||0||0|
|– Panik, 3b||38||2||1||1||2||0||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|Gurriel Jr., lf||34||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|– Kirk, ph||21||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|– Dyson, pr||15||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|– Isbel, rf||15||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|