KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ned Yost thought Jakob Junis was starting to labor in the fifth inning Monday night, so he turned to bench coach Dale Sveum and promised to pull the young Royals right-hander if it continued.
Laboring? He was throwing a no-hitter.
“Dale thought I was kidding,” Yost said, “but I honestly had no idea.”
Junis had hit three batters and walked two more, but he did not allow a hit until one out in the seventh inning.
By that point, the Royals were well on their way to a 10-0 rout of the Seattle Mariners to open their three-game series at cold, windy Kauffman Stadium.
“I was paying attention to the score, but I wasn’t paying attention to how many hits they had,” Yost said. “I looked up and saw he had a no-hitter and I was completely oblivious to it.”
So, what would have happened if Yost trotted to the mound to make a change?
“I would have had to tell him to go back,” Junis replied.
After Junis (2-0) finally allowed a hit to longtime friend Daniel Vogelbach, he finished up the seventh without any more trouble, running his scoreless streak to 14 innings to start the season.
“He was just kind of in a groove,” Vogelbach said. “You’ve got to give him credit. Sometimes pitchers are on and he pitched well tonight. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Junis was given a standing ovation when his night was done by the announced crowd of 12,324, most of whom quickly filed out with temperatures just above freezing.
Everybody in the Royals lineup but Drew Butera scored off Marco Gonzales (1-1) and the Mariners bullpen, and all the catcher had done was drive in a couple of runs. Things got so ugly that Seattle had infielder Tyler Motter pitch the eighth and Mike Moustakas promptly took him deep.
“Solid at-bats all night long in the tough cold,” Yost said. “We got on (Gonzales) early, got his pitch count up and it was nice to give Jake a little bit of a cushion.”
Gonzalez allowed four runs, eight hits and a walk for the Mariners while retiring seven batters, and reliever Casey Lawrence promptly allowed five more runs while getting five more outs.
Kansas City’s offensive outburst on a raw night came out of nowhere. The club had been held to a single run in four of its previous five games, and two runs in the other. The Royals hadn’t scored more than three runs in a game since a season-opening 14-7 loss to the White Sox.
They had three runs in the first inning alone Monday night.
They tacked on another in the third before a five-spot in the fifth, a half-inning that lasted so long it was a wonder Junis didn’t cool off — or freeze entirely — while sitting in the dugout.
Instead, he trotted back out and worked a four-pitch sixth inning that lasted about 2 minutes in real time. And after he finally yielded a single to Vogelbach in the seventh, Junis struck out Guillermo Heredia and got Ichiro Suzuki to fly out to cap his dominant performance.
Seattle finished with two hits and left five runners on base.
“We didn’t do a whole lot offensively. Obviously, we didn’t get a hit until later in the game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They just beat us. We had a bad night.”
1B Ryon Healy flew back to Seattle on Monday to meet with Dr. Edward Khalfayan and review an MRI of his ankle, which he hurt Saturday during a postgame workout. Healy was put on the DL retroactive to Sunday and RHP Chasen Bradford was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
Mariners: DH Nelson Cruz (sprained right ankle) and C Mike Zunino (left oblique strain) resumed baseball activities Monday, and both could be back this weekend. OF Ben Gamel (right oblique strain) is getting at-bats at Tacoma and is also close to returning.
Royals: C Salvador Perez (left knee sprain) hit and ran bases for the first time prior to the game, and reported feeling “pretty good.” Yost said his All-Star could be back early in the four-to-six-week timeframe that was given when Perez got hurt just before opening day.
Royals LHP Eric Skoglund makes his season debut against RHP Felix Hernandez as the three-game set continues Tuesday night. Skoglund has not pitched in a game since an exhibition March 17, thanks to rainouts and postponements that have wrecked the Royals’ early schedule.