KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For once, this is not a baseball story about the cold or its chilling effects on offense. Nor is it about winds that knock down balls that might have dropped for hits.
This story is unlike the ones written about the Royals in the last 10 days.
Because on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, the day after they played a game in which the first-pitch temperature was the lowest ever recorded at Cleveland’s Progressive Field, the Royals matched their run total from the previous six games and scored nine runs in just four innings.
And because on Monday night at Kauffman Stadium, where the temperature was 42 degrees at the beginning of the game, what the offense accomplished barely mattered.
Jakob Junis, the right-handed pitcher the Royals selected in the 29th round of the 2011 draft, dazzled the Seattle Mariners for 6.1no-hit innings in front of a small portion of the 12,324 fans who bought tickets to the game. He threw 90 pitches, pushed his season-opening, scoreless-inning streak to 14 and allowed just one hit in seven innings in the Royals’ 10-0 win.
“He’s gonna plateau out where he’s gonna be good every time,” manager Ned Yost told a gaggle of reporters before the game.
Although only time will tell if Yost’s prediction resonates, at least on this night his declaration held some weight.
Junis faced 23 batters before Daniel Vogelbach sent a groundball up the middle. Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, shifted to the right side of the infield, dived to his right to knock the ball down behind second base. But he couldn’t get to his feet quickly enough to attempt throwing out Vogelbach, who cruised into first base with the Mariners’ first hit of the game.
So Junis didn’t become the first Royals pitcher to throw a no-hitter since Bret Saberhagen pitched one on Aug. 26, 1991.
But maybe one day.
“He’s been a very, very pleasant surprise since the day that he came up last year,” Yost said.