KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Janson Junk didn’t get a chance to pitch when the Los Angeles Angels recalled him from Triple-A Salt Lake last month.
He made the most of his time on the mound Wednesday.
Junk dazzled the Angels with five-plus innings of four-hit ball, mixing up a fastball with a two-seam slider, and earned his first major league win when the Los Angeles bullpen shut out the Kansas City Royals the rest of the way in a 4–0 victory.
“After the last time I came up, I got activated but I wasn’t able to throw,” said Junk (1–0), who did make a relief appearance in May after four starts last season. “It left a bitter taste in my mouth. I made it my mission to get back here.”
He might get another shot, too, considering how he set down the Kansas City lineup. The 26-year-old allowed four hits and a walk while striking out eight before turning over a 2–0 lead to his bullpen, which did not allow a run for the second consecutive day.
“He was pounding the strike zone. He knows what’s effective for him,” interim Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “A lot of good fastballs, pitched ahead and just really pitched well.”
Shohei Ohtani reached base three times and drove in a run, pacing a scuffling Angels offense that managed to capitalize on the Royals’ shoddy fielding and get their first series win since June 27–29 against the White Sox.
“We put some pressure on them,” Nevin said, “and then we were able to add a couple of runs.”
Brad Keller (5–11) allowed three runs on six hits and three walks in six innings for Kansas City.
“It was a really good outing,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “He gave us a chance to win and that’s all we can ask.”
Keller retired the first nine batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth, when Kurt Suzuki led off with a double to left field that Andrew Benintendi didn’t field cleanly enough to hold Suzuki to one bag.
One out later, Phil Gosselin drove a pitch to right that MJ Melendez—a catcher by trade making his eighth career start in the outfield—couldn’t snare while crashing into the wall. Gosselin cruised into third with a run-scoring triple while Melendez, whose face smacked the metal fencing, needed a moment to recover before staying in the game.
Brandon Marsh proceeded to drive in Gosselin for a 2–0 lead.
Gosselin had a chance to do more damage in the sixth, when Jared Walsh and Suzuki hit one-out singles and Magneuris Sierra walked to load the bases. Instead, Gosselin grounded to shortstop for an inning-ending double play.
It didn’t matter. The Royals never came close to solving Junk or the Los Angeles bullpen all afternoon.
Angels OF Mike Trout will go at least another week without baseball activity because of his ailing back, trainer Mike Frostad said, and there’s a chance the three-time AL MVP could need to manage it the rest of his career.
Trout left a game against Houston on July 12 with what was called back spasms, then went on the injured list a week later with rib case inflammation. He had a cortisone injection last week for what has since been determined to be a rare spinal dysfunction.
“Of course, that’s my goal,” Trout said, when asked whether he plans to play again this season. “I’m going to see the doctor for a checkup and we’ll go from there.”
Angels: RHP Austin Warren was optioned to Salt Lake to make room for Junk on the roster.
Royals: LHP Angel Zerpa went on the IL after hurting his right knee while fielding a grounder down the first-base line in his start Tuesday night.
RHP Jackson Kowar was recalled from Triple-A Omaha to replace him.
Angels: OF Jo Adell got the day off after getting hit in the arm by a pitch Tuesday night.
Royals: SS Bobby Witt Jr. (hamstring) missed his third straight game, though Matheny said he’s still hopeful of avoiding an IL trip.
Vinnie Pasquantino was out of the lineup with right thumb discomfort.
Angels: Head home for a four-game series against Texas with RHP Shohei Ohtani (9–5, 2.80 ERA) starting Thursday night’s opener.
Royals: Embark on a seven-game trip with RHP Brady Singer (4–3, 3.82) on the mound for the first of four games against the Yankees on Thursday night.
By Dave Skretta