ANAHEIM, Calif. — Everyone could see the potential. Alex Meyer could fire a fastball in the mid-90s, drop a curve to buckle knees. The Washington Nationals took him as the 23rd player in 2011 draft and everyone waited.
If success did not come quickly, there was no denying he looked like a pitcher ready to deliver in the Los Angeles Angels’ 9-0 victory over Kansas City on Saturday that snapped the Royals’ six-game winning streak.
“This is one of those games you hope for, where he bottles the stuff with command,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He was in the zone with terrific stuff all afternoon.”
Bolstered by home runs from Cameron Maybin, Albert Pujols and Luis Valbuena, Meyer (3-3) threw six scoreless innings to do his part in a two-hit shutout.
“We’d heard he was erratic with his command,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “But he threw the ball very well.
“You don’t see a lot of breaking balls like that. Those 5 o’clock shadows didn’t help, but they were the same for both teams.”
Meyer tied a career high with nine strikeouts, walking one. He gave up the two hits, both singles.
It was the 6-foot-9 Meyer’s ninth start of the season after beginning the year in the minors.
“The more you go out there, the more confident you get,” Meyer said. “I definitely feel it’s another step in the right direction.”
Maybin hit a leadoff homer in the first inning, Pujols had a two-run shot in the fifth and Valbuena added a three-run homer in the seventh.
Rookie right-hander Jake Junis (2-1) got the first loss of his career, surrendering five runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.
“He just struggled with his command,” Yost said. “He left a lot of pitches over the plate.”
The Royals had at least 10 hits in each of their last four games, but Meyer and relievers Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Yusmeiro Petit combined for the Angels’ fourth shutout of the season.
Pujols’ 602nd career homer gave him 1,865 career RBIs, moving past Mel Ott into 10th place on baseball’s career list. It was Pujols’ 11th home run of the season.
With Bedrosian back and the anticipated return of Huston Street on Tuesday, the Angels’ bullpen is approaching good health. A myriad of relievers have performed in their place. The bullpen is fourth in the majors in wins (14), seventh in strikeouts and eighth in ERA (3.62).
“These guys have really been holding up well,” Scioscia said.
KANSAS CITY SHUTOUT
This was hardly the first time the Royals have been blanked this season. It was the seventh time they have been shut out, tying the San Francisco Giants for the most in baseball.
MAYBIN LEADING OFF
The Angels outfielder has hit in eight consecutive games. Since being moved to the leadoff spot, he is batting .388 (31 for 80) with three home runs.
“It’s always good to get a quick lead like that,” Maybin said. “It allows your pitcher to breathe a little bit.”
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker (forearm tightness) was placed on the 10-day DL, though no starter has been named for his next turn in the rotation Tuesday. … RHP Parker Bridwell was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take his roster spot. … Bedrosian (groin) was also activated from the DL and RHP Daniel Wright returned to Salt Lake. Bedrosian last pitched April 21. … OF Mike Trout (thumb surgery) is expected to start holding a bat next week.
Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (9-3) will take the majors’ second-lowest ERA (2.10) into Sunday’s series finale against the Angels. He has held opponents to two or fewer runs in 10 of his 13 previous starts.
Angels: RHP JC Ramirez (6-4) is scheduled to make his 13th start of the season. Ramirez, a career reliever until the Royals moved him into the rotation early this season, threw a career-high 111 pitches in his last outing.