A game that appeared to be destined for a shootout turned out to be a low-scoring nail-biter, but the Royals shut down the Astros over the game's final eight innings to get back in the win column on Tuesday night.
They didn't know it at the time, but the Royals got all the offense they needed from the first three batters of the game. Alcides Escobar led off the night with a single to center field, which was followed up by a single from Mike Moustakas. Houston starter Mike Fiers was already on the ropes, and Lorenzo Cain made him pay. Cain lined a 3-2 pitch into the first row in the left-field porch for a three-run home run, his second of the year. Three batters into the game, the Royals already had a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom half of the first, the Astros struck back against Kansas City starter Kris Medlen. Jose Altuve and George Springer both got on base to begin the inning, but Medlen got Carlos Correa to ground into a double play to third base. This would prove to be critical because the next two Astros, Colby Rasmus and Tyler White, would reach on base hits, plating two runs.
Medlen, who was making his season debut, settled down to produce an impressive start. He shut out the Astros over his final four innings of work, working around walks with timely strikeouts. He even picked off Springer after giving up a base hit to open the third inning. One night after Chris Young was shelled for six runs in less than five innings, Medlen held Houston to nothing following their first-inning crooked number.
Kris Medlen's final line: 5.0 innings, six hits, four walks, and seven strikeouts. If there's an area to be concerned about, it's the walks, which were a huge reason Medlen needed 97 pitches to work five innings. However, considering the size of the ballpark he was working in, it's hard not to be satisfied with Medlen's first start of the year.
Neither offense did much of anything after the first inning. The Royals only advanced a runner to second base twice in the final eight frames, and both times, it was Alex Gordon. However, Omar Infante failed to come through with a two-out RBI chance in both circumstances, stranding Gordon at second base in both the fourth and ninth innings.
Houston put two men on with two out in the fifth, but Rasmus struck out to end the threat. In the eighth, the Astros again put two runners on with two out, but Joakim Soria got Carlos Gomez to ground out to escape.
Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Soria, and Wade Davis combined for four shutout innings of relief to end the game. They each worked one inning apiece. Hochevar and Herrera worked perfect sixth and seventh frames. Soria got through a scoreless eighth. Davis closed out the contest by working around two walks. It wasn't as easy as things typically are for Davis in the ninth, but he got it done after using 33 pitches. He drove the count full on all five hitters he faced.
Wade Davis has four walks in four innings this year. Last year, he issued just 20 walks in 67.1 innings.
The win went to Medlen, who is 1-0. Fiers (0-1) took the loss. Davis earned his third save of the year.
It's the Royals' first regular-season victory in Houston since April 17, 2014. They had lost four straight regular-season contests at Minute Maid Park.
Kansas City is 5-2. It moves into a first-place tie with the Chicago White Sox.
Up next: the four-game set continues tomorrow when Yordano Ventura (0-0, 3.60 ERA) opposes Scott Feldman (0-1, 9.00).