Royals, Blue Jays can continue to make history

Mike Moustakas remains one home run away from the Royals franchise record.
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — The Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays don’t figure to be providing any thrills for their fans in October. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t provide a little history in September.

They did just that Tuesday night in the Blue Jays’ 5-2 victory.

When Royals left fielder Alex Gordon hit his eighth homer of the season in the eighth inning Tuesday against reliever Ryan Tepera, it was the 5,694th home run hit in the majors in 2017, surpassing the previous record set for a season in 2000.

“A pretty cool thing to be a part of,” Gordon said. “I didn’t hit many this year, but I guess I made one count. It’s good to be in the Hall of Fame, I guess. … I’m going to give (the ball) to Cooperstown. I figured they’d probably have much more reason to have it than I do.”

There could be more history from both teams as the three-game series continues Wednesday with the second game at the Rogers Centre.

Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista struck out twice Tuesday and is one whiff away from setting a single-season club record. He is tied at 159 with Jose Canseco (1998) and Kelly Johnson (2012).

Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas is one home run away from setting a franchise record. He has 36, matching the mark set in 1985 by Steve Balboni. Moustakas has hit only one homer over his past 28 games, however. He has not hit one since Sept. 1, and the 15-game drought is his longest since July 23-Aug. 10, 2015.

“It’s amazing,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “We’ve seen our share of home runs. Moose is on the verge of breaking our franchise home run record. I don’t know what to make of it. Guys are bigger and guys are stronger, but so are the pitchers. There sure are a lot of home runs being hit.

“You’re always looking to elevate. You’re not going to make a whole lot of money hitting the ball on the ground in this league because the defenders are so quick and athletic. You’ve got to get the ball in the air, I think, if you’re going to be successful.”

Toronto’s Josh Donaldson did not hit a home run Tuesday, but he has hit 21 since the All-Star break, which leads the American League for that span. He has 30 home runs this season despite being on the disabled list for 38 games with a calf injury April 14-May 25. He has missed 48 games overall.

“There is a ton of home runs being hit, more than normal,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “It really looks like the ball is flying. Why, who knows? …

“Fans love it. When you’re hitting them, we love it. When they’re hitting them, you don’t like it so much. l see a lot more opposite-field home runs that you wouldn’t normally see on certain-type swings.”

The Royals will start right-hander Jakob Junis (7-2, 4.15 ERA), who will try to win his sixth straight decision, against Toronto left-hander Brett Anderson (3-3, 5.73 ERA overall).

Junis’ five consecutive winning decisions are the most by a Royals rookie since Luke Hochevar won five in a row from June 4-25, 2008. He has allowed four walks in his past 169 batters as a starter, recording 36 strikeouts in that span.

Junis did not factor in the decision in the Royals’ 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday when he allowed seven hits, one walk and one run with one strikeout in 5 2/3 innings.

He had a no-decision June 23 in his only start against the Blue Jays this season, allowing two runs, six hits and two walks while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.

Anderson left his start Thursday at Minnesota after 4 1/3 innings because a blister was developing on his left index finger, but barring a setback, he is on target to make the start Wednesday. He allowed two runs, five hits and four walks and did not factor in the decision Thursday in a 3-2 win by the Twins.

He will make his fifth start for the Blue Jays, who signed him after he was released by the Chicago Cubs. He is 1-1 with a 3.27 ERA in four starts with the Blue Jays and is 3-3 with a 5.73 ERA overall. Anderson is 2-0 with a 3.46 ERA in two career starts against the Royals.