Royals end epic scoreless streak, dump Rays
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After 45 consecutive scoreless innings, the Kansas City Royals erupted in a big way.
The Royals blasted three home runs after going scoreless since the second inning Thursday, and Kansas City topped the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Tuesday.
Eric Hosmer hit a three-run shot, and Whit Merrifield and Jorge Bonifacio contributed solo home runs for the Royals, who snapped a five-game losing streak.
The Royals (65-66) snapped their scoreless streak three innings shy of the major league record.
Merrifield ended the drought with a home run with two outs in the third inning. He parked an Alex Cobb pitch an estimated 372 feet to left. It was Merrifield’s 16th home run of the season, and it lifted a two-ton gorilla off the Royals’ back.
“Maybe just like a regular old monkey,” Merrifield said and laughed.
The Royals added a run in the fourth. Hosmer led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a Cobb wild pitch. Mike Moustakas’ single to left scored Hosmer.
Hosmer’s 22nd home run with Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar aboard in the seventh inning pushed the Royals’ lead to four runs. After Rays reliever Brian Boxberger gave up a single and a walk, Dan Jennings took over on the mound. Hosmer drove a 2-1 pitch out the opposite way against the left-hander.
“It’s been a while since we’ve scored, but the guys did a good job of maintaining the real focus of just going out there and figuring out a way to get a win,” Hosmer said.
After Brian Boxberger gave up a single and a walk, Dan Jennings replaced him. Hosmer drove a 2-1 pitch out the opposite way against the left-hander.
“The biggest issue is he’s not able to throw that put-away pitch right now,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of Jennings. “You see some long at-bats. Sometimes he’s getting ahead. but hitters are seeing it well enough to where they’re drawing the pitch count up a little bit and they’re able to not miss pitches over the zone. So, I don’t really see anything other than not being able to finish a guy.”
Bonifacio hit his 16th homer of the season in the sixth.
“We’re still in the middle of this thing,” Merrifield said. “We’ve got a month and some change left and we’re three games back for the wild card. We’ve got a good shot at this thing. We believe in ourselves. We’re going to keep chugging away and hopefully we can build on this.”
Jake Junis (6-2) picked up the victory, allowing one run and three hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out a career-best eight with no walks.
“I like strikeouts,” Junis said. “Anytime you strike out that many guys it’s going to be a fun night.”
Cobb (9-9) allowed three runs and seven hits, including two home runs, and throwing three wild pitches.
“As a staff, we need to go out there and do all we can to win the ballgame,” Cobb said. “But, that one pitch, that one hanger (to Bonifacio) ... kind of hard to swallow. I just hung a curveball. It was a bad pitch. It was what he’s looking for, probably, in that situation. He’s probably expecting a curveball to come, and I hung it and he had a little extra time to get the barrel to it.”
The Rays (66-68) finished with a total of five hits against five Kansas City pitchers.
NOTES: Royals LHP Danny Duffy was charged with a DUI on Sunday night in a Kansas City suburb. “We are obviously disappointed in the news,” Royals GM Dayton Moore said. ... RHP Matt Andriese will go back into the Rays’ rotation with a Sunday start in Chicago. ... Royals LHP Brian Flynn was placed on the disabled list with a groin strain, which he sustained Monday in his first big league outing of the year. LHP Eric Skoglund was recalled from Triple-A Omaha. ... Rusty Kuntz will not be coaching first base for the Royals the remainder of the year because of vision trouble. He will continue to assist but from the dugout. Catching coach Pedro Grifol replaced him in the first base box. ... The Rays’ Double-A Montgomery farm club clinched its third straight trip to the Southern League playoffs. ... Rays RHP Jake Odorizzi and Royals LHP Jason Vargas are the Wednesday probables.