The Royals and Astros are two winning teams atop their divisions in the AL. However, they are built to achieve success very differently. The Royals, of course, focus on putting the ball in play while supplementing with baserunning and strong, athletic defense. The Astros, on the other hand, focus on walks and power while supplementing with infield shifts on defense. In this particular series, the Astros came out on top.
The Royals jumped on Vincent Velasquez early. With two outs in the top of the first inning, Lorenzo Cain jumped on a fastball and drove it to left-center field. That area is very deep (it's 404 to LCF!), so Cain was able to make it to third at the pace of a brisk trot rather than a full-blown sprint. I think everyone on the defense resolved themselves to the fact that it was a triple off the bat. Of course, it didn't matter. Kendrys Morales, batting left handed, took an outside fastball deep to the opposite field. It cleared the tall fence in left field for a two-run homer.
The Astros dang near responded in the bottom of the inning. George Springer and Jose Altuve got on base and succeeded on a double steal attempt. With only one out, there were speedy men on second and third. Luckily, Edinson Volquez held the fort and struck out Luis Valbuena and got Chris Carter to fly out.
The Royals scored again in the second. Alex Gordon singled and took second on a wild pitch. That turned out to be pretty important. The next batter, Alex Rios, took an outside fastball the other way for a single, on which Gordon scored.
The game proceeded fairly standardly for awhile until the fifth inning. In the interlude, Chris Carter boomed a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth on a breaking pitch that went inside instead of anywhere else. The fifth was unfortunate; the wheels became unhinged. Marwin Gonzalez hit a leadoff homer on a meatball of a grooved pitch down the middle. Of course, since home runs are such rally killers, the scoring stopped there......we wish.
Volquez followed up the home run by walking Jason Castro and hitting Springer. Jose Altuve singled up the middle, and Springer hustled from first to third and was barely safe on Jarrod Dyson's throw to Mike Moustakas. Altuve advanced to second on the throw. Evan Gattis followed with a single to the right-center gap that scored Springer and Altuve. Gattis, trying to advance to second on the play, was thrown out at second as he tried to "hop" over the tag unsuccessfully. Volquez managed to strike out Valbuena and Carter to end the inning. At the end of the carnage, it was 5-3 Astros.
Volquez came in to start the sixth inning, but he gave up a single to Jon Singleton and was removed for Franklin Morales. Morales gave up a single before getting two outs. Ned Yost came out to replace Morales with Ryan Madson to face Springer. Domingo Santana came to pinch hit for Springer, who apparently suffered an injury when he was hit by a pitch in his previous plate appearance. Madson struck him out, so the threat ended with no damage done.
Volquez's final line: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 8 SO, 2 HR. This is a game loved by FIP and hated by ERA. Such is life.
Salvador Perez walked to lead off the seventh. SALVADOR PEREZ WALKED. That was enough for A.J. Hinch, who replaced Velasquez with Josh Fields. Fields allowed a single to Rios before Jarrod Dyson hit another triple. Dyson popped a line drive the opposite way - remember the deep left-center field area? Dyson's hit went further toward left field, but it was still a long run for a fielder to get there. Dyson's triple wasn't even challenged with a throw to third. That tied the game.
Velasquez's final line: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 SO, 1 HR.
Kelvin Herrera came in for the bottom of the 7th, and he couldn't find the strike zone. He hit Altuve, who stole second and moved to third on Gattis' out. Valbuena walked, which brought up Carter. Carter hit a chopper to Moustakas, who threw home trying to peg Altuve. It looked like Moustakas got the throw in plenty of time, but n a very close call Altuve was ruled safe. This looked like one of those plays that wouldn't have been overturned regardless of what the call on the field was. Honestly, it looked like he was out in the frame-by-frame look, but I am a Royals fan who might be biased.
The rest of the game was finished out by the Astros bullpen. The Royals were unable to score against the bullpen, so the game ended in a sweep for the Astros.