The Astros were the first contender to pull the trigger at the trade deadline, picking up pitcher Scott Kazmir from the Athletics yesterday for a pair of minor leaguers. That gamble paid off handsomely today as Kazmir shut down Kansas City for an easy 4-0 victory, the fourth win over the Royals in as many tries for the Astros.
Jeremy Guthrie allowed twelve baserunners over the first four innings, putting the Royals in a hole early. Preston Tucker hit a solo home run in the second to get Houston on the board, and Colby Rasmus would drive Carlos Correa home later in the inning to make it 2-0. In the fourth, Jake Marisnick hit a one-out double and would score on a bloop RBI pop-up by Jose Altuve. Preston Tucker's double would fail to score Altuve when the Royals executed yet another perfect relay to nail Altuve at home. But Tucker would come around to score anyway on an RBI single by Correa to make it 4-0 Houston.
That would really be all Scott Kazmir would need. The newest Astro would validate this week's trade, at least through one game, by tossing seven shutout innings, giving up just three hits. The Royals would manage to get just one runner in scoring position over the first eight innings of play. The bottom of the lineup seemed particularly inept, with the last five hitters going a combined 1-for-16.
Credit to Guthrie, while he was terrible, he at least was able to stay in the game. He would grit and grind his way through seven innings and 111 pitches, ending up with a typical Guthrie-esque game where he kinda looks like he kept you in the game, but ultimately didn't pitch all that well. But at least the bullpen was saved.
The Royals looked like they might have some #RoyalsDevilMagic going in the ninth inning. Mike Moustakas led off with a walk, and following a Lorenzo Cain fly out, Eric Hosmer chopped a light grounder to short. Carlos Correa fielded it and made an errant throw to first base, hitting the wall. The ball bounced back so quickly that first baseman Jon Singleton was able to grab it just as Eric Hosmer foolishly rounded first base. But with no one covering first base, Hosmer was able to make it back safely. Unfortunately, Kendrys Morales grounded into an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the game. There would be no magic tonight.
The Astros have been giving the Royals the business this year, which perhaps is the kick in the tail the Royals need to go out and make a move to improve the ballclub. Or at the very least, wake the players up to the fact that the best record in the league is no guarantee of success in October if they have trouble beating other good teams in the league. Scott Kazmir has improved the Astros, who will improve the Royals?