Today it was the Royals’ turn to have the big inning.
Before we get to that, Ian Kennedy did something today that no other Royals starter had done yet, this homestand. He didn't give up a crooked number in the first 2 innings. In fact, the number of runs he allowed in the first 2 innings of this game was rather round. And that number stayed the same for 5 innings as he allowed only 3 base runners over that span.
Early on, however, the Royals' offense seemed to have vanished as surely as the Astros' had. A pair of 2-out singles by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer in the first led to nothing when Salvador Perez popped out. In the third Whit Merrifield singled with one out, Alex Gordon flew out to deep center, and then Cain singled deep down the left field line before Hosmer grounded out weakly.
The good guys finally broke through in the bottom of the 4th inning when Kendrys Morales crushed a line drive home run into the Astros' bullpen in right. Unfortunately, Kennedy gave up a solo home run down the left field line to Astros catcher Evan Gattis on the first pitch of the sixth inning, because it was too much to hope the Royals might finally go an entire game without allowing a home run.
Morales, fearing some may have missed his first home run, performed an inspiring reprise to lead off the 7th inning. It was a rainbow shot in the same area on a 3-0 fastball down the middle. Later in the inning, Cheslor Cuthbert continued his recent hot hitting by following a 1-out Alcides Escobar line drive single with a rope over the wall in left center. Hosmer capped the 5-run inning with a line drive past the diving A.J. Reed to score Gordon and Cain.
Among things that happened today for the first time in a week:
- The Royals had the first lead of the game
- A Royals starting pitcher went 7 innings
- The Royals had a multi-run lead
- The Royals gave up only one home run
- Wade Davis got to pitch
- The Royals won a game
- Whit Merrifield struck out 3 times (first time in his career)
At the beginning of the game Ryan Lefebvre mentioned that Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland had told Kennedy to be more convicted with his fastball, but it was all of Kennedy's pitches that were sharp today which led to him striking out a personal and Royals season high 11 while only allowing 3 hits and a walk. However, Morales barely edged out Kennedy’s terrific performance in terms of WPA, adding 32% while Kennedy managed an only slightly less impressive 28%.
The Royals not only avoided the sweep, but also won the season series against the Astros 4 games to 3. They can still complete a winning homestand by sweeping the home half of a home-away 4 game series with the St. Louis Cardinals, which begins tomorrow night.