BOSTON — Royals starter Jakob Junis held his own against the best team in baseball. He didn’t factor into the decision as the Royals defeated the Red Sox 7-6 in extra innings at Fenway Park on Tuesday.
Jorge Soler hit the game-winning homer, a three-run shot in the top of the 13th. For a year, the Royals vaguely wondered if they’d made the right choice. Fans, especially, wondered if the move to send Wade Davis to the Cubs in exchange for a strong outfielder who had yet to really prove himself in the major leagues was worth losing an integral member of a World Series-winning bullpen.
On Tuesday night in Boston, 16 months after the December 2016 trade brought Soler to Kansas City, the Royals reaped the benefits. Soler struck a 74 mph curveball offered by Red Sox reliever Brian Johnson into the Green Monster seats in left field.
With a swing that muscled the ball 357 feet over the wall, Soler absolved Royals closer Kelvin Herrera of his first blown save of the year. Herrera earned the victory.
The Royals fought from the ninth inning on to re-take a lead they lost in the sixth, when starting pitcher Jakob Junis surrendered a solo home run to Mitch Moreland and an RBI single to Jackie Bradley Jr.
Before the game, Junis’ dad, Jody, stood at the railing of Fenway Park’s visiting dugout and watched the Royals take batting practice. He sported the No. 65 jersey his son wears for the Royals and marveled at his fortune.
Junis, a 25-year-old who debuted for Kansas City in a pinch last summer, has morphed into a rotation mainstay and was about to pitch in one of baseball’s historic parks.
“I’m a wreck,” said Jody Junis, who for the first time was afforded a chance to join the Royals on their annual father-son trip. “My stomach is churning right now. I was hoping he wouldn’t pitch on this trip so I could totally stress-free enjoy it. But if you’re gonna be in this league a long time, you’re gonna have to face the best teams and the best hitters. Ultimately, you got to prove that you can beat those teams. And here we are.”
In the end, the younger Junis departed the game without factoring into the decision. Over six innings, Junis gave up seven hits and two earned runs to the best-hitting team in baseball. He also struck out five.