DETROIT — With another postponement looming as a possibility, Jakob Junis and the Kansas City Royals breezed to their first victory of the season.
Junis took a shutout into the eighth inning, and the Royals beat the Detroit Tigers 1-0 on Tuesday. On a chilly, rainy day — with snow a possibility on Wednesday — Kansas City and Detroit played nine innings in 2 hours, 17 minutes.
The Royals were the last team in the American League to earn their first win. They already had one game called off because of the weather, on Sunday at home against the White Sox. This one had the potential to be dicey, but although some light rain had fans leaving the lower bowl of seats in the third inning, there were no delays.
“At the beginning, the wind was blowing right in my face, but that kind of helped me out a little bit, to get some more movement on my pitches,” Junis said. “Later in the game it still wasn’t great, but at least the wind had died down a little bit. I pitched in a lot of that type of stuff back in high school, being from Illinois.”
The temperature at game time was 40 degrees.
“Those conditions out there are miserable for everybody,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “When it’s misty like that it helps you a little bit, because you get a little bit of moisture on your fingers. When it’s super ice cold, the ball feels like you’re throwing an ice cube.”
Jorge Soler, who still doesn’t have a major league hit since July 2, drove in the game’s only run with a sacrifice fly in the second.
Junis (1-0) allowed three hits in seven-plus innings . The 25-year-old right-hander walked one and struck out six before being lifted following Mikie Mahtook’s leadoff single in the eighth.
Justin Grimm finished the inning, and Kelvin Herrera struck out two in a perfect ninth for his first save.
Matthew Boyd (0-1) was sharp for the Tigers, allowing a run and four hits in six innings. A native of Mercer Island, Washington, Boyd said he, too, has some experience with conditions like this.
“I think I had an advantage, because I grew up pitching in weather like this,” he said. “In my opinion, it is much easier to pitch in this weather than to hit in it.”
The only run came after Cheslor Cuthbert led off the second and let go of the bat while swinging. The result was a flare that dropped over first baseman Miguel Cabrera and bounced down the line. By the time Cabrera retrieved the ball, Cuthbert had a double. He went to third on a flyout and scored on Soler’s flyball.
Soler went 0 for 2 and is hitless in his last 31 at-bats in the majors.
Cabrera struck out with two on in the third, and the Tigers missed a scoring chance in the fourth when James McCann hit what looked at first like a clean line drive up the middle. Second baseman Whit Merrifield was shifted over, however, and made the diving catch — then doubled Nicholas Castellanos off first .
Detroit SS Jose Iglesias made a diving stop on Cuthbert’s grounder in the ninth, the start of a nifty 6-4-3 double play that helped the Tigers stay within a run.
“That’s a great play, especially in this weather,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “It’s wet, so the ball is skipping on you, and then you’ve got to make a toss without a dry grip.”
The Royals requested unconditional release waivers on RHP Kyle Zimmer, who was designated for assignment March 29.
Royals: 1B Lucas Duda sat out after leaving Monday’s game with right hamstring tightness.
Tigers: Gardenhire said RHP Mike Fiers (lumbar strain) felt good after throwing around 80 pitches Monday at the team’s spring training facility in Florida.
Detroit’s Daniel Norris faces Kansas City’s Danny Duffy (0-1) on Wednesday, weather permitting.
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